Moore the Merrier

Last updated : 24 February 2002 By David Clark

Star Geezer - Paul Weller
Three quarters of the way through the season, it is at lower status grounds where Clarets destiny lies, so this was a very important win made on the back of a very strong midfield performance in which the Paul's, Weller and Cook were outstanding. So too was Kevin Ball, deputising at centre half in place of the suspended Arthur and Ball's no nonsense style allied to confident defending was a key factor in Clarets gaining this vital victory. Up front Stan stuck to his recent ploy of using Taylor as the lone striker, Ian Moore accompanying Robbie Blake in the tracksuit department, it once again lacking a reserve keeper.

Thankfully, the snow laden gales from Lancashire did not make it to Cheshire and Clarets faced the Railwaymen on a dry, cold, but very blustery day. Ince kept his place in the home goal as Crewe looked to make amends for having conceded ten in their last two home games. "Effin" Sodje the Clarets' fans favourite, would respond to taunts about his headgear engendering the relationship still further. Tea towel head finally broke in the second half, though his gesture went largely unnnoticed.

Man in the centre was Mr Rejer, of who I had awful memories after his shambolic performance at Hillsborough last season. How would he fare in the game? Well he would not be too controversial, except for his introduction of his new no contact ruling, so a game of little malice was constantly interrupted for innocuous fouls.

So into the game and the Clarets would dominate the first half, despite playing into the strong wind. All the early play was Clarets, the home side unable to get out of their half for the first ten minutes. Strangely, whilst Clarets could press on at will, Ince was rarely under threat, mainly down to Clarets willingness to pass side wards when at the area rather than have a go for goal. The first chance at a goal came for Crewe, Collins inches away at the far post from Smith's delightful cross.

This though was brief relief to the Crewe defence and Clarets taking the lead on the quarter hour. Little's trickery won a corner and Cook took the spot kick swinging the ball high to the far post where Taylor met the ball with a powerful downward header. Cleared from the line by Smith, the ball was spooned into the air where Ball challenged, Taylor hitting the loose ball on the turn, Smith, on the line, missed the ball and in off the post it went for Taylor's thirteenth of the season, his first with his feet in open play. Cue mass celebrations on two sides of the ground.

Crewe responded by continuing to look poor, the front men, heads down, played without belief and the normally assured short passing game of Crewe was replaced with misplaced passes and a disjointed game making it easy for Clarets to dominate. Beresford tried to level matters on twenty minutes, a poor goal kick resulting in Ashton having a run at goal. Marlon, having put himself in no man's land, saw Cox come to the rescue, the incoming shot cleared from the keeperless goal.

Armstrong after a bright start left the field on the half hour, another dodgy hamstring now on the physio's table and replaced by Branch moving into his "favourite" left back slot, Briscoe moving to the vacant midfield berth. Weller finished a fine move with the straight shot at goal on the half hour, too straight though and Ince was equal to the crisp shot.

Ten minutes from the break and Little in chasing down a back pass, took his eye off the ball missing a complete breakdown in communications between keeper and full back, the loose ball then going out harmlessly for a goal kick. Blakey was involved in the final action of the half, when after superb wing play on the bye line, his low cross eluded everyone as it passed through the six yard area, Taylor the closest to a toe poke home.

Into the second and with Mr Inconsistent, Rodney Jack coming into the game, Dario Gradi made it clear he was going to step up the pressure on Clarets defenders. Clearly having had a half time roasting, Crewe visibly upped the pressure, Clarets sadly sat back ready to absorb it.

Star Gazer - Glen Little
Taylor was unlucky when his header flashed wide of the post in the half's first real action, then Clarets began to see the best of keeper Ince when a free kick was awarded ten minutes into the half after Little had been fouled twenty five yards from goal. Briscoe's free kick was charged down by the wall, the rebound was similarly blocked before the loose ball fell to West who hit an absolute screamer. Destined for the top corner, Ince superbly tipped the ball away for a corner, preventing Fred's first goal for the Clarets in fine style.

Buoyed by this West started the move the led to the second and winning goal. Releasing the ball to Weller some thirty five yards out, Weller took the ball on delaying his pass to Alan Moore in the right hand side of the area. Moore took a moment to weigh up the situation before moving the ball out a yard and curling an absolute peach in to the far top corner, a marvellous goal.

The goal though seemed to inspire Crewe more than the Clarets and within five minutes they were back in a game that was now at its most exciting. Brammer's deep cross to the far post was headed across goal and Hulse had the easiest of tasks at the near post heading home with one or two visiting defenders hopefully claiming offside.

Rix replaced Smith, Dario now going for three up front, caution thrown into the still strong wind, a third consecutive home defeat not what the home team needed. Clarets began to look somewhat rocky, the midfield temporarily out of service, the defence coping, just, with Crewe's increased tempo. Beresford saved superbly from Vaughan's drive, then curiously watched as Jack rose at the far post heading against the angle, the rebound hit by the same player against the top of bar and finally out to safety. A bit of that often referred to rub of the green stuff in these moments of anguish.

The largely ineffective Little was replaced by an eager looking Ian Moore with fifteen to go, Stan later claiming that this decision as one more based on "going for it" than trying to relieve the pressure on his defenders. Either way the move paid off and Clarets having weathered the Crewe storm finished the stronger and could have added to their lead. With five long minutes remaining, Cox's superb header looked destined for a goal until Ince got down to the ball and one handed managed to keep the ball out.

West, the game's only booking, collected his yellow for a late challenge on Jack before Foster replaced Collins in Dario's last throw of the ice. Clarets had the last opportunity and Mooro's shot on the turn was into the grateful arms of Ince, before Mr Rejer used his little toy for one last time and brought proceedings to a happy conclusion. Clarets retained fifth spot with these three vital points, moving on to sixty points, keeping pace with the main play off contenders as a very key sequence of games now begins.

Fingernails, are you ready?

Att:- 6,458

Glass Half Empty

Clarets defended far too deep and far too often in the second half, seemingly content to allow Crewe time and space in which to build attacks. Equally, Marlon suffered a dose of the Nico's today refusing to come off his line to collect crosses. No wonder Clarets fans have no fingernails.

Star Gazer

Glen Little. Stan excused the pitch for Glen's below par performance, but this was another ineffective performance from Blakey. Playing in his roving role once again, too often he was deep when receiving the ball leaving the right wing vacant for the most part and asking a lot of West to supplement his contribution to the game.

Glass Half Full

Clarets dominated this game for over an hour and it was surprising that it was only the one goal at half time. Three superb saves from Ince kept the score down and Crewe in the game.

Star Geezer

Paul Weller. Another display of guts, determination and skill. His run for the second and winning goal was crucial, typifying his performance today where alongside Paul Cook he enjoyed an afternoon of good solid midfield play.