Late penalty costs us

Last updated : 05 December 2004 By Tony Scholes
Brian Jensen - made some good saves to keep us in the game
They don’t play the best football in the world, I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it every week as they continue to lump balls forward to the big men, but it can be effective and certainly was yesterday as an under par Burnley had no real answer to it.

In ninety minutes of play we didn’t have a single shot on target and only Robbie Blake, with a couple of shots that went wide, even had an attempt at goal. Meanwhile at the other end we faced a barrage with a whole host of shots that had to be dealt with in what really was as one sided a game as you are likely to see.

We defended well, keeper Brian Jensen made some good saves, and at times Plymouth’s finishing was woeful, and that is why we got ourselves into the last minute of the game still level.

The game started, as it ended, with a claim for handball against Gary Cahill. This first one was ridiculous and Plymouth’s very big forward Micky Evans could count himself lucky he didn’t receive at least a yellow card for his protest.

Had he been carded that would have seen him off the pitch on seventeen minutes when the dreadful Lee Probert booked him for diving as he went down appealing for a penalty against Lee Roche.

I had probably the best view of this incident and remain convinced that Probert got it wrong, Evans was fouled and a penalty it should have been.

In between those two incidents much of my attention had been taken away from the pitch as I witnessed Frank Sinclair being receiving racial abuse from the home fans. Worse was to come later for Mo Camara, I seem to recall this is not the first time either at Home Park.

Robbie carved out a couple of chances for himself, one he put hopelessly wide but the other he did get close. Apart from that it was just a matter of defending with the midfield area being totally ignored as ball after ball came at us.

Steve Cotterill switched things round and brought on John McGreal for Lee Roche but it certainly made no difference to the balance of play. We were defending well though and this meant that generally Jensen had only routine things to deal with although he did make two good saves.

Right on half time referee Probert compounded an awful first half with the most amazing of decisions. He awarded Plymouth a free kick on the right wing but before they could take it he decided he wanted our two man wall moving back.

Gary Cahill - another good game until that last minute penalty
They appeared to be over ten yards from the ball but it made no difference to the Bristol official who waved his yellow card at Tony Grant. He then moved the ball forward ten yards, and guess what, he still didn’t reach the previous position of the wall making the yellow card look pretty stupid.

Half time came with the scores level and maybe we had weathered the storm, surely Plymouth couldn’t dominate in the second half as they had done in the first and this was now our chance to get into the game.

It didn’t work out like that although there is no doubt that the home side really did run out of ideas in the second period. As time went on they resorted more and more to just banging balls into our box, or making use of the long throw to get it in there.

It became more frantic and although Jensen was called on more than once you just began to sense that we had seen them off and we did start to come more into the game.

Robbie sent James O’Connor down the right wing but he was stopped in his tracks when a Plymouth defender went straight through the back of him. The assistant who had been struggling without success to come to terms with the offside rule waved frantically but yet again when the bad foul came there was no further action.

It looked as though we had done it, into the last minute at 0-0 and that result was going to be a good one for us given the way we had played. Then disaster struck and inexplicably Gary Cahill stuck his arm in the air and when there was contact the referee got this one right and pointed to the spot.

There can be no arguments about the spot kick at all and Paul Wotton stepped up to score to Jensen’s right giving him no chance just as we went into added time.

There used to be a zoo right behind the away end at Plymouth and it looks as though some of the uglier and more ferocious animals have been brought inside the ground to the left of the away fans.

As most of the ground were celebrating the winner this group had to be contained by police and stewards as they tried to break out to attack the Burnley fans. Racial abuse to our right, wild animals to our left, not a pleasant place to watch football.

Three minutes of added time produced nothing for us but by then it was no surprise, we really had been soundly beaten and had struggled right from kick off to handle Plymouth. Steve Cotterill said it would be a tough game, he was right but on this occasion his side was just nowhere near up to the task.

I would have given the Man of the Match award to Gary Cahill but that’s not so easy after his last minute blunder, prior to that though he had played really well again.

It wasn’t the best of days for us, the only highlight was the free cream cake that came with the pasties from the pie shop across from the pub we stopped at. And the journey did seem a long one on the way home, maybe now I’ll have some sympathy for the South West Clarets.

The teams were,

Plymouth: Romain Larrieu, David Worrell, Paul Wotton, Graham Coughlan, Peter Gilbert, David Norris, Steve Adams (Lee Hodges 87), Tony Capaldi, David Friio, Micky Evans (Marino Keith 89), Stevie Crawford. Subs not used: Keith Lasley, Paul Connolly, Blair Sturrock.

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Michael Duff, Gary Cahill, Frank Sinclair, Mo Camara, Lee Roche (John McGreal 33), James O’Connor, Tony Grant, Graham Branch, Ian Moore, Robbie Blake. Subs not used: Paul Scott, Joel Pilkington, Amadou Sanokho, Mark Yates.

Referee: Lee Probert (Bristol).

Attendance: 13,308.