Canaries Flutter to Deceive

Last updated : 03 March 2002 By David Clark

Star Geezer Gareth Taylor celebrates his goal
Yet a team that could come to Turf Moor and leave with a point that maybe could have been all three.

That Libbra's late header came out when hitting the inside of the post is difficult to believe, when seeing the angle of the header, but their second half domination of the Clarets was a serious and worrying situation. Understandable then that there was some fan frustration shown at the final whistle. Also understandable then that Stan had a post-match rant in the media interviews, the frustration of the current dismal home form beginning to threaten Clarets place in the playoffs that once looked so assured.

No one seems to be able to identify the current loss of form at home; Stan blames the pitch, the pre-match pub conversations instead point fingers at individuals playing below par and recent team selections as the cause more than the blanket and sand combination Stan prefers as scapegoat. Who knows what the cure is, but one look at the remaining fixtures and it is currently difficult to imagine a home win in March, so it is imperative Clarets pick up points away from the Turf.

Stan tried to change things in his team selections for this important game. Gone were Cox and Branch from the poor mid-week team against Birmingham; neither were in the sixteen. In came Arthur and Blake, making his first start, Davis continuing in the centre of defence, Briscoe taking his rightful berth at left back. Papa..... even made the subs bench. So all in all no one could moan at the beginning of the game, but doubtless someone would be, somewhere, this is football after all.

Stan even got his increased tempo, as Clarets began brightly looking like a Clarets team of pre-January in the early phases of the game, much more determined than of late and with both Little and Alan Moore looking eager, the game began very positively indeed. So positively, that Clarets took an early lead, Little's sixth minute corner converted by Taylor's powerful header for his fourteenth of the season, easily beating former favourite Crichton and ricocheting in off the legs of Nedergaard on the line. Good start, the chimes of Tom Hark in the air, happy faces in the rows, blimey!

Happiness turned to concern within minutes. Little clashed heads accidentally when meeting Beresford's long clearance and was apparently unconscious as he landed. You knew it was serious as Norwich's physio was on the pitch as he landed, not waiting for Mr Jones to halt play. After nine long minutes of watching the motionless Little be gently lifted and strapped on to the special spinal stretcher, his neck in a brace, the game got back under way, his injury later being described as not as serious as it first appeared. Let us hope so, this is the third consecutive game in which the unlucky Little has been seriously injured when playing Norwich. It was nice to see that all four sides of the ground rose to applaud Little from the field, Ian Moore replacing him, stomach strain not in evidence.

On the quarter hour, leading scorer Roberts limped from the field, being replaced by Ravanelli look-alike Libbra. Oh good I thought, no Roberts. Not so, Libbra was to have a major impact on the game and led Norwich to a deserved point, though in these early stages in the game, Clarets defenders were looking much more eager and resolute than of late. Mulryne was booked by the whistle happy Mr P Jones (the "P" presumably standing for persistent), whose extended blow on the whistle and frequency of use were an irritation on the day. Clarets were dominant in the first half, West showing typical determination half way through, before Mooro's first touch one again let him down.

Ian Moore runs at the Norwich goal
Misjudgement of the bounce by Arthur allowed Libbra a first sight at goal, but his angled flick was ambitious and Beresford need only watch the ball over his bar. On the half hour mark, an appreciative crowd applauded as Ian Moore released West opening up the Norwich defence, before Davis headed wide. Briscoe was booked for shirt pulling but the officials were guilty here of inconsistency, no surprises there, given that Norwich players were getting away unpunished with similar niggly fouls.

A lucky ricochet in the Clarets area, saw the ball land at Libbra's feet and his good low shot on the turn from the penalty spot seemed destined for an equaliser until Marlon, one handed, parried the shot superbly. Mr Jones' was centre stage again, not responding after Alan Moore was crudely taken out by constant offender Kenton, as the game moved into its nine minutes of injury time. Curiously, Clarets elected to spend this time sitting deep, inviting Norwich to come forwards, with the midfielders static and when finally breaking forwards, the ball forwards was more of an aimlessly looped effort over the top, that hit with any purpose making it very easy for the Norwich back four to keep their shape.

So to half time, in the lead for once and a warm welcome back to former hero Steve Gardner, looking slimmer now than when he played! It was also a return to Paedophilia, once again demonstrating their four dance routines in one in another show of "synchronicity" for the Jimmy Mac Stand to endure.

Into the second half and one that was to be dominated for the most part by the visitors. In the very first minute, Libbra's alertness in a reverse pass allowed Nielsen a clear shot, but it was well wide. Ten minutes into what was an uneventful game at the time, came the equaliser in almost identical circumstances to that in which Birmingham won in midweek. Time and space was allowed in the space in front of Briscoe, the ball was played in across the six yard line where hesitancy between Davis and Beresford allowed Libbra to nip in shooting an angled shot across Beresford for a soft, very soft goal.

The goal visibly lifted the visitors, whilst setting back the home side. A handbags session following the goal saw both Taylor and Kenton booked, the former unlucky, the latter somewhat fortunate the card was only yellow as he clearly raised his arms in the melee. Ian Moore's header over at the near post was his solitary effort on goal in the game, before a disappointing Blake was replaced by Armstrong, Stan reverting to his normal front two of Ian Moore and Taylor for the final half hour.

Kenton was replaced by Sutch as Norwich began to sense a victory, continuing to enjoy far too much space behind Alan Moore and in front of an exposed Briscoe. Clarets briefly responded to the turning tide, Alan Moore's neat pass to Taylor hit prematurely on the turn. An increasingly dull game came to life in the final twenty minutes. First Davis' punt was fumbled by Crichton, the loose ball superbly charged down following Taylor's shot.

Gareth Taylor challenges in the air
Maylett replaced Alan Moore for the last fifteen, a move proving pointless as Clarets failed to get the ball across to the youngster in the closing minutes. Libbra's constant threat was maintained as a further reverse ball from him released Nielsen, thankfully Davis was alert and cleared the danger. Arthur was then very brave getting his chest in the way of a fierce drive from Mulryne as the game briefly swung from end to end. Weller wasted Clarets' best chance in the game, when failing to control a loose ball six yards out, both teams now sensing a point not being good enough for them.

Nigel Worthington's last throw of the dice saw Rivers replace Nielsen and it was the subs great deep cross to the far post after beating Briscoe, that saw Libbra's towering header back across goal hit the inside of a well beaten Beresford's far post and somehow taken out to safety by Arthur, Clarets very fortunate not to go behind in the final minutes.

Fleming was booked for a foul on Moore as the game moved into injury time before Mr Whistlehappy blew for one last time, a section of the crowd angering Stan in their boos at the final whistle.

Att:- 14,679

Star Gazer

Robbie Blake. After weeks of waiting we finally saw our record signing start a game, though he only lasted an hour before being withdrawn. Although he is aware to the fact that Talyor wins the majority of headers challenged for and took up good positions for knock downs, flick ons etc. he contributed nothing as regards attempts at Crichton and spent the majority of his time running into trouble and was generally very disappointing.

Glass Half Empty

Two wins in the last twelve games, three points from the last eighteen at home and only three goals scored at home in the last six games played at the supposed "fortress". The home form is a serious cause for concern and the only side Clarets can put under pressure is themselves. Blaming the pitch is a poor excuse for a team that has lost its creative streak, badly in need of a Paul Cook/Tony Grant type of inspired performance. The injury to Little just adds to the prospect of a dismal end to what was an enthralling season.

Star Geezer

Gareth Taylor. Good all round performance, contributing much more off the ball with support to midfield and defenders than normal. Yet another headed goal and a pity that he can only score one goal a game, as he is currently the only person who looks like scoring a goal and putting visiting keepers under any threat at home.

Glass Half Full

Only one defeat in the last six and thankfully two away games now at the bottom two clubs in the division. This draw stops the rot of home defeats and in the first half Clarets carried much more threat than of late at home, Little looking bright until his early injury. Maybe the returning white ball is going to be a lucky charm? A pity that they could not kill off Norwich when on top in the fist half.