Clarets chew on a bit of Spanish

Last updated : 19 January 2005 By David Clark

A fine Claret - Steve Cotterill
The result was no real surprise on the night, Clarets played the better of the football throughout and took the game to their illustrious visitors with some creative individual displays in an overall energetic and impressive team performance.

Steve Cotterill was also kind to Rafa Benitez and his cosmopolitan squad - they can have another rest now as they have a completely free weekend come the end of January, whilst his own mini-squad must plough on in their own sixty game season.

Quietly confident before the game, Steve Cotterill gave a series of upbeat and persuasive interviews, whilst his counterpart played down the game, defending his decision to rest most of his star names, electing to start with only three of those who played against Man Utd at the weekend. His confidence was fully merited and Clarets to a man played to their strengths, repeating their feat earlier in the season when beating Aston Villa.

After a delayed start due to crowd congestion, and in what was a good opening half, Clarets played the better of the football and a bright start nearly saw early goals and but for Dudek, who elected to use his gloves in this game, good saves from man of the match Richard Chaplow and Micah Hyde denied Clarets an early lead.

Chaplow was superb, tenacious in the tackle and energetic throughout, his quality was there for all to enjoy and Mr Clattenburg was generous when leaving Liverpool with eleven on the field when Burnley's little dynamo was kicked form behind in the early stages of the half.

Sinclair tried to get his name on the score sheet on the quarter hour, but only succeeded in heading over from one of a series of well delivered corners by the impressive Valois, another of Clarets stars on the night, his a performance full of confidence and tantalising ball skills.

It was the Frenchman who caught the eye on the quarter hour, when a jinking cross field run past four defenders put Sinclair in a good position, but his spanking new boots let him down and the chance was gone.

Jensen's moment of the game came shortly afterwards when an enforced change of top to avoid a clash with the canary like Scousers, necessitated a swap from gold to blue for the Beast.

Hyde again tried his luck on twenty minutes, this time a rushed half volley from another Valois corner went just wide, but by now the pattern of the half was set. Clarets were active all over the field, denying Liverpool any space, their man with the ball given few options, other than long balls after impatience set in, the midfield in particular was superb, with Hyde, Grant and Chaplow getting through a tremendous amount of work in a very controlled display.

Clarets nearly suffered a setback ten minutes from the break though, Roche's control was anticipated well by Pongolle on the half way line. Racing clear then moving into the area, Pongolle was blocked by a combination of Jensen's low save and Roche's recovery in snuffing out the danger.

In the final minutes of the half, Liverpool rallied, Welsh had a long shot and Raven an awful one from distance, the half closing as Jensen dealt with an bouncing shot from Potter that needed watching closely.

HT 0-0.

Sour grapes - these fans were getting behind the Clarets but there were a moronic few chanting 'Rooney'
The second half began without the expected increase from the visitors, so Clarets once again seized the initiative and the lead six minutes into the half. Chaplow beat Whitbread to a loose ball on the edge of the area and calmly took the ball onwards before curling a dangerous ball across the six yard line and beyond Dudek.

Under a little pressure from Roche, Traore attempted a suicidal drag back and before able to recover, the ball was over the line sending the vast majority in the near full house wild with a combination of delight and amusement.

The goal inspired Clarets further and Valois cheekily tried to chip Dudek from fully fifty yards, when the Pole was spotted off his line.

The visitors tried to rally, the seriousness of the situation became obvious and Moore was felled by Raven for the first booking in the half.

On the hour mark, Baros came on for scapegoat Traore, but Clarets still did the pressing. Chaplow set up Hyde who lent back from the edge of the area, the skyward shot should have been much better.

Tackles began to fly in, Mr Clattenburg elected a policy of lenience, but even he had to take action when Chaplow flew in on something of a revenge mission and the midfielder marked an otherwise impeccable display with a booking from the rash challenge.

Twenty minutes from time, a trade mark late run from Chaplow into the area almost sealed the victory, but his shot from Roche's superb cushioned header was just wide of Dudek's post, the finger tip save being missed by an otherwise set of competent officials.

The threat from Liverpool began to increase and in the last twenty minutes as Clarets tired a little, the visitors increased their threat. Baros played in Potter whose shot from the edge of the area was poor to say the least, Valois was harshly booked for obstruction and Mellor came on for Welsh in a last throw of the dice from Benitez.

Liverpool tried, Clarets rallied, the defence was well organised and composed, the central duo of McGreal and Cahill remained rock like and the few shots that came in were from distance and largely wide of the mark.

Raven felled Grant for a silly booking, then Nunez fouled Grant, the elbow was spotted and Nunez walked from the issue with a straight red card.

Time was ticking away, heart beats briefly increased as McGreal tripped Baros on the edge of the area four minutes from time to create one final chance for the visitors. The wall did its job and the last chance was gone, the final moments of a famous victory seeing the impetuous nature of the visitors, Baros being the final name taken for dissent.

So that was that and Steve Cotterill and his team of motivated, close players took another night of glory as this team improves with each game. It may be good story for the national press, but how much of a shock was this in reality to many of who watched Clarets regularly over the course of this season?

FT 1-0.

Att 19,033.

Sour grapes

Can the moronic minority justify their chants during and post-match of Rooney. Pardon the pedantic nature, but has he ever played for Clarets or Liverpool for that matter? Such myopic behaviour only belittles the club in the eyes of others. What would our response be if the opposing chants were ones of "Shearer" or "Garner"? I rest my case.

A fine Claret

None of the eleven magnificent performers let their manager down and for me the men of the match were Valois and Chaplow, but fine Claret for me was Steve Cotterill. Quite how he does it is amazing. His media skills are on a par with his coaching and tactical skills, here we have a leader who simply inspires all around. Tenth in the Championship and two major cup shocks in the same season, surely now, the needed increased supporter levels will follow and some of the local doubters will start to return - surely?