Burnley 3 Wimbledon 2
Report of match 18th August 2001
Reporter Andy Robinson
‘You can dream a little, you can dream a lot…’ were the opening lines to the Burnley Building Society song. Well I have often been accused of having a wildly optimistic outlook on the Clarets and so I’ll dream it now –
I had vowed not to criticise referees but Mr Michael Jones of Chester managed to achieve a new record today. The early part of the match was punctuated by his constant whistling for a spate of Wimbledon free kicks awarded for the most innocuous of challenges. The Clarets were eventually awarded their first free kick and with less than 5 minutes on the clock we had the earliest reported hearing of the ironic cheer.
Due to the untimely interventions of Mr Jones the game was struggling to get going until on 10 minutes a seemingly harmless lob into the Clarets box was not dealt with allowing Neilson to nip in and hook the ball past Nick in goal. It looked to me like Armstrong should have dealt with it though his reaction indicated that he thought Nick should have come for it. Yes, one of those again.
Within the minute though the depressingly small band of Dons fans were choking on their cheers. Kelvin Davis in the Wimbledon goal attempted to kick out a back pass and seemingly under minimal pressure only succeeded in slicing it across his 6-yard box where Alan Moore was waiting for a simple tap in. Simple it may have been but the trick was being there in the first place and it was encouraging to see the Clarets midfielder getting in to the box.
Burnley then began to get on top though Glen Little was being kept fairly quiet due to the fact that he had 2 men on him. This was giving Alan Moore space on the left though and he fed another Morro, Ian who hit a powerful shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Lee Briscoe looked out of place in central midfield but was making up for this by throwing himself into some determined challenges and together with Paul Cook also playing centrally we looked fairly comfortable despite the absence of Ball and Weller.
On 29 minutes we eventually won a penalty. I say eventually because it had been won in instalments as 2 previous pushes in the box had been ignored by Jones the Whistle but it was third time lucky as Dons defender Chris Willmott crashed into the back of Ian Moore.
Paul Cook (pictured) stepped up and Kelvin Davis in goal flung himself quite brilliantly low to his left. This was a pity for him as the penalty sailed into his top right corner. 2-1 to the Clarets and we were probably worth the lead at this stage.
Things did not improve for Kelvin as he made another hash of a back pass and was lucky that this one didn’t end up in his own net, scrambling back to recover. It’s difficult to find an excuse for him as the Turf Moor pitch resembled a plush carpet and who knows what he will be like in December when the pitches have cut up.
He was to prove not much better with his hands as half time approached and Steve Davis got in a header from a Little free kick. It looked like a regulation catch but he spilled it to his right where Gordon Armstrong was on hand to tap home to much delight from 99.5% of the 14,473 crowd.
The second half opened to a torrential downpour and almost a 4th goal. Armstrong seems to have deposed Steve Davis as free kick taker and indeed it was he who stepped up to take a 25 yarder on 49 minutes. He produced 2 similar efforts in the friendly against Chelsea and they are almost Beckham like as the ball curls powerfully away from the keeper but our friend Kelvin was equal to this one with a fine tip over the bar.
Although Steve Davis got forward to place a chip, yes that’s right a chip, on to the top of the bar it was now Wimbledon who began to dominate. This side is far removed from the long ball team of old and their passing was almost a joy to watch earning ripples of applause on occasions from Clarets fans not ashamed to clap the opposition i.e. not me.
It was a familiar story last season and so it continued this as the Clarets played deeper and deeper and on 62 minutes the Dons were back in it. Again it was a familiar story as the Clarets failed to clear properly and a cross was arrowed into the back post where the unmarked Shipperly was waiting to plant a firm header home with Nick rooted to the spot.
Despite having Mullin ready to come on from the bench for most of the second half Stan didn’t make any changes and frankly for the next 10 minutes we were all at sea as we surrended territory and possession to Wimbledon far too easily. Ian Moore was pulled into right midfield as Stan went 4-5-1 leaving Gareth Taylor to struggle on his own
Hearts were certainly in mouths when Connolly hit a skiddy shot against the inside of the post but the Clarets eventually regained control of the match.
I wouldn’t say it was completely nerveless but for the last 15 minutes it was Burnley who looked more like scoring. Little was eventually free of his double markers and embarked on 2 mazy 50-yard runs to the edge of the box but failed to find a finish to match the runs on both occasions.
The match finished bizarrely with Tony Ellis playing right midfield as he came on to replace Ian Moore and Mullin had finally got his chance replacing Alan Moore who went off to a fine round of applause.
The 3 minutes of injury time were negotiated with the ball almost exclusively in the Dons half before Mr Jones blew his most welcome whistle of the day and the Clarets had done it.
It is not a well-known fact, or maybe it’s just that nobody cares, but none other than Salman Rushdie penned the lyrics to the Burnley Building Society song during his days at an advertising agency. As Salman so wisely wrote all those years ago: ‘The best dreams of all are the ones you’ve got, building in the Burnley’.
Oh I know that it’s far to early to judge but it’s 6 points in the bank and you will allow me to dream a little won’t you?
Burnley: Nik Michopoulos, Dean West, Steve Davis, Ian Cox, Gordon Armstrong, Glen Little, Paul Cook, Lee Briscoe, Alan Moore (John Mullin 85), Ian Moore (Tony Ellis 90), Gareth Taylor. Subs not used: Luigi Cennamo, Arthur Gnohere, Andy Payton.
Wimbledon: Kelvin Davis, Alan Kimble, Andy Roberts, Neal Ardley, Neil Shipperley, Kevin Cooper, David Nielsen (Patrick Agyemang 80), Mark Williams, Chris Willmott, Jermaine Darlington. Subs not used: Ian Feuer, Duncan Jupp, Par Karlsson, Robert Gier.