With a string of first team regulars such as Gareth Taylor, Lee Briscoe, Paul Weller, Steve Davis, Ian Cox and Dean West absent through either injury or suspension, the Clarets were always going to have a make-do-and-mend look about them for this game, and so it proved.
Dimi Papadopoulos was dropped to the bench after last week’s FA Cup game at Grimsby, as Ian Moore started alongside Robbie Blake up front. In midfield, Little and Alan Moore patrolled the flanks, with Cook and Grant paired up in the centre. Stan went for a back four of Branch, McGregor, Gnohere and the Clarets loan signing, Drissa Diallo. Diallo was an instant hit with supporters with his no nonsense tackling. But more of him later. Nik The Greek returned in goal for his first game since returning from his loan spell at Crystal Palace, and was afforded a warm welcome back from the Turf Moor faithful.
Burnley began the game well, and on 4 minutes Tony Grant’s blocked effort fell to Ian Moore 25 yards from goal, but his shot failed to trouble Andy Marshall as it sailed wide of the right post. Two minutes later, the Clarets were awarded a free-kick deep in Ipswich territory. Paul Cook whipped the ball in from the right and Ian Moore climbed with Thomas Gaardose. Some suggested the Ipswich defender handled the ball, but no Burnley players claimed, and in any event Marshall got down well to save on the line.
Just after the quarter hour Robbie Blake embarked on a mazy run which came to nothing as he laid the ball out wide to Glen Little who slipped and ended up on his backside, much to the amusement of the travelling Tractor Boys.
Burnley tried to get back in the game, but they were not helped by the pedantic and fussy Mr. Hall who never missed an opportunity to blow his whistle and slow play down. On 36 minutes, Glen Little took on and beat World Cup star, Matt Holland. His resultant shot bent wide of the left hand post. Undeterred, Burnley pushed on and Robbie Blake surging run saw him fire a fierce drive just wide of the target from the edge of the area. The first half came to an end with Ipswich in the lead, and the Clarets a little unlucky.
On 51 minutes, Graham Branch needed to be at his sharpest as he denied first Fabian Wilnis and Jim Magilton with a pair of superb sliding tackles in his own penalty area. Five minutes later, Ipswich should really have doubled their advantage. Marcus Bent chipped the ball over Gnohere into the path of namesake Darren. Fortunately for Burnley, he made a complete hash of his shot, screwing it well wide.
On 58 minutes, Graham Branch was again repelling the visitors single-handedly, when Marcus Bent latched onto a through ball from Tommy Miller. As Bent brought the ball under control, Branchy once again slid in to save the day. "There’s only one Graham Branch" was the chant from the Harry Potts lower tier. Is he finally winning the boo-boys over? Probably not, but it was nice to hear him get a bit of recognition for his efforts.
Burnley were pressing forward at this point, but without getting much change out of a resolute Ipswich defence. But then an act of capricious whim on the part of Mr. Hall got the Clarets back in the game. Alan Moore, who had don well in the second half, threaded a ball through to namesake Ian. As Moore chased the ball Andy Marshall advanced off his line and threw himself at Moore’s feet. For my money, our centre-forward made a meal of things, throwing his arms upwards and giving it the full dying swan. Whether it was a foul or not is up for debate, but Marshall was stupid to go diving in and team-mate Jim Magilton was not slow in letting him know. Whatever, Mr. Hall pointed to the spot and we had our first Turf Moor penalty of 2003. Robbie Blake kept his head to dispatch his effort past Marshall who dived the wrong way – 1-1. Shortly afterwards, Alan Moore was replaced by Dimi Papadopoulos as Burnley looked to claim all three points.
The game’s last significant action almost saw Burnley snatch all three points. From wide on the right, Glen Little produced his best pass of the afternoon, sending a low ball skidding across the six yard box. Ian Moore got a slight touch on it, but it wasn’t enough, and the ball looked to be going out of play until Dimi Papadopoulos got a boot to it, but he was at full stretch and only succeeded in knocking the ball onto the post and out of play.
In many ways, it would have been harsh on Ipswich who may well have been the best side to visit Turf Moor this season. Both sides got the ball down and wanted to play football. Both sides created some decent chances. And in theend, both sides probably got just what they deserved.