Good old Mr Cable had short-circuited and after a unnecessarily lengthy delay, his portly assistant Mr Tiffin took over to oversee the remainder of the game. Quite why the fourth official did not take over proceedings I do not know, but the concerns shown for the well being of the referee by the officials were not shared by the vast majority in the near fourteen thousand crowd, glad to see the Mr Cable leave the game for whatever reason after a performance of decision making that came from departments labelled Curious, Odd and Daft.
His pettiness and futile precision for dead ball taking, a knack of getting in players way from free kicks and for bookings that seemed more in line with maintaining his yellows/game factor than for improving the standard of play endeared him not a jot to the paying spectator. Still Mr Tiffin worked in the same department, but his attitude to where a dead ball could be placed was random, so once again consistency in officiating was more our discussion point than the reasons why the second half Clarets' performance failed to match the qualities of the first, in which at times, some of the Clarets approach play was quite simply superb, the sublime skills exuded by Messrs Blake and Blakey a joy to watch.
On what was a very cold but dry afternoon, Clarets took to the field as they had against Man Utd in mid week and similarly their first half football against another set of red and whites was high tempo and top quality, all ten outfield players demonstrating new found confidence levels, each displaying desire to want the ball.
Clarets' should have taken the lead in only the second minute when Little, after retrieving the ball from his marker, went round three men in the area as only he can, then chipped a delightful ball to the far post, the ball met powerfully by Taylor's head. Sadly, Ward was equal to the header, managing to push the ball around his right hand post for a fine save.
A minute later and the goal rush continued, this time Weller's follow up from another
Clarets were firmly in the ascendancy with little shown from Paul Hart's merry band of men, though Harewood's hilarious miscue when going for glory on ten minutes was so wild he fell spectacularly as the ball spun off at a tangent from his sliced effort. A minute later and Blake showed him how to turn and shoot neatly beating three men in one movement on the edge of the area, but his final shot was blocked and
Arthur's immaturity showed once again, booked for needlessly throwing the ball away on the half way line, Mr Cable's pettiness for the rules showing through - he followed up with an award of the ten yard advancement, then from the free kick Arthur showed great calmness heading over his own goal to clear the danger.
On twenty eight minutes, Clarets took the lead and scored what proved to be the only game in a tight match. Neat play down Clarets right, saw the ball passed backwards to Cook, who having found time and space, delivered a superb cross from the Bob Lord touchline. The in swung ball saw Briscoe get in front of
Two minutes later and Briscoe was almost through on goal but, Des the fossil
The move of the game, saw Blake and Little exchange passes after a run from deep Blake saw him to the left edge of the area, but his left footed shot in beating Ward was also inches past the post. This period of Clarets play was quite simply superb and as good as seen all season, the Clarets unable to score that second goal their football and at that point the superiority merited.
Briscoe in not taking a throw in from the precise blade of grass pointed to, conceded possession, Mr Cable inventing new rules for the occasion, in giving the ball to
The half closed with Briscoe missing the best chance of the half, misjudging the flight of Little's deft chip into the six yard box and in jumping under the ball, he sent it over and not under the bar as the half closed to much applause as the teams left the pitch.
Into the second and Blake immediately showed his class, tricking three men as he waltzed through only to be tripped by the last man. Live wire Mr Cable couldn't be positive, so he went for yellow and not a possible red, then managed to get in the way of the free kick as his fouling up of proceedings continuing.
Little carelessly lost the ball in centre midfield allowing Harewood to break free, his dangerous cross beating Beresford but somehow not Branch who was able to clear the ball from under the bar, despite close attentions from Lester. In chasing the move downfield Mr Cable blew a fuse and the lengthy interruption began as he left the field to be replaced by his main assistant, Mr Tiffin, to chants of "you're not fit to referee" from the wit amongst the North Stand songsters.
On the hour mark, Cook delivered an absolute peach of a cross field pass, picking out Little, who in acres of space took the ball on and was stopped only by a very well timed tackle from behind as he sped into the area. The ever popular Johnson, warmly applauded throughout, nipped between a sleeping Davis and West, but shot over the bar when well placed and Clarets could be very thankful for his having an off day at the Turf office as
Marlon's first real save came with twenty minutes remaining, Scimeca's well struck, curled free kick, comfortably saved by his left post. Taylor should have finished the game off three minutes later, when after being put clean through from Little's interception of Forest's casual defensive passing, he shot rather tamely with his left foot and Ward was able to save with his legs.
Reid replaced Lester, then Blake by Papa.... as the game entered its final stages. Scimeca again tested Marlon from long range, but his one handed tip over showed the assuredness of our keeper currently before Alan Moore replaced
David Johnson's miserable day was completed, when he missed the ball completely, diving in to meet Harewood's cross, then Arthur stood his ground harmlessly seeing the ball out when next to the post, the little striker frustratingly unable to get near the ball. This though was Arthur's last act of composure as Clarets ended the game somewhat nervously, and our tower of strength could be very thankful to Branch who cleared his misjudged header off the line with only two minutes later, a long throw causing confusion between Arthur and Marlon.
Marlon's early release once the panic was over, saw Alan Moore race away down the left, who after cutting inside his man, released Papa with a well weighted pass. Papa's first touch was not as good as it could have been and his resulting shot was parried by Ward for a corner, gaining precious seconds if not a precious second goal.
Still that was that and Clarets had beaten a team who previously had lost only once in fourteen, the Clarets now having beaten three of the top four sides in recent weeks as their move towards a play off spot continues.
Glass Half Empty
Clarets should have made more of their first half domination when they had
Paul Cook. Just how many miles did he cover during the game? From shutting down 'keeper and defenders alike, to constantly tracking back and in delivering the cross that Clarets scored the winning goal from, his was an all round performance deserving of man of the match. Additionally, he brings the best out of others around him, most notably Paul Weller, who gave as good a performance as he has all season.
Glass Half Full
Some of the football played during the first half, was tremendous. The contributions from Little and Blake are now becoming weekly expectations and from which Clarets regularly carve open their opposition. Forest were frequently exposed as Clarets neat approach play and footwork enabled many chances in the area and though largely unpunished, the football is of a quality and consistency deservedly pushing the Clarets onwards ands upwards currently.