Malcolm Dawson writes…..Shildon play Whitley Bay in the Northern League Cup this evening. Peter Sixsmith will be there hoping to see a team in red and white progress in a knock-out competition. He travelled to the North Lancashire hotbed of football that is Burnley last night, more in hope than expectation of seeing a team in red and white progress in a knock-out competition. Burnley is a proper town, with a proper football club and proper folk drinking proper beer. It has a lot to commend it. If like me you agonised with Gary Bennett, whose commentary grew more and more agonised as the match went on, you’ll perhaps be relieved that you weren’t there in person to witness another shabby performance. Pete was. Here are his thoughts.
BURNLEY FA CUP REPLAY
Another away game, another disappointing journey home and another search for the words to describe a dismal performance.
So let’s look at the trip and do a bit of a travel piece. The fact that the Durham Branch were prepared to run a bus was a pleasant surprise. So along with a rival writer, we were waiting in Spennymoor at 3.00pm as the dinky 33 seater (without a toilet) rolled up to the bus stop.
There were 10 of us scattered around the coach, all stretched out and with ample reading material. The aforementioned rival had his nose in Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Quiz alert – What does the K stand for? Which Midlands town did JKJ come from?). I read the remnants of the weekend papers and The Rugby League Express while The Sunday Times circulated.
Off we went over Blubberhouses Moor, past Menwith Hill and Skipton (one of my favourite towns) and into the hill top town of Colne. A break for an hour or so took us to a micro pub called Boyce’s Barrels, situated opposite the Colne Hippodrome – a splendid old cinema.
Boycie turned out not to be an Essex second hand car dealer with a pneumatic laugh but a jolly East Lancs lad who clearly loved his ale and who wisely sold beers from outside the area. A splendid pint of mild was quaffed from a Somerset Brewery called RCH and a half of bitter from a brewery whose name I have forgotten.
From Colne we traversed the M56 several times before we entered Burnley from above and saw the gleaming lights of Turf Moor in the distance. The coach was parked outside the ground and it was straight in and into the wooden seats of the Cricket Ground stand – state of the art 40 years ago but looking a wee bit tired now.
That’s the good bit over. On to the reason for us being there…………
Moyes shuffled his cards a little bit. He started with three at the back – Jones, Djilobodji and Denayer – with Manquillo and Van Aanholt playing as wing backs. Donald Love combined with George Honeyman in midfield (Love and Honeyman – Florists to the Polari) with the chosen skipper Seb Larsson in the middle. Up front those two powerhouses, Borini and Januzaj (I gather Wakefield Trinity are looking at them to play in the second row in the upcoming Rugby League season) were there to rattle in the goals. A decent selection under the circumstances – those being that we appear to have no more than 13 fit senior players.
It started reasonably well. The three central defenders coped well enough and we buzzed around a little bit in midfield. Unfortunately, we appeared to be completely incapable of passing the ball to our own players while Burnley, entirely unreasonably, persisted in passing to their own men. For 43 minutes we held out until Jason Denayer lost his concentration and lost Sam Vokes who, entirely unreasonably, turned a fine header past Vito Mannone. One down at half time, there was hope for the second half as we attacked the goal behind which the 1800 Sunderland supporters (including a group of Belgian groundhoppers who happened to be Anderlecht fans) were massed.
Unfortunately we never saw much action as our defenders decided to kick the ball to anyone wearing a claret and blue shirt. Barton and Defour ran the midfield while Keane and Tarkowski swatted away the “threat” posed by Borini and Januzaj. And so it went on. Aimless long balls from the defenders, plenty of pointless running from the midfielders and absolutely nothing from the forwards. Defoe replaced Love (what’s Love got to do with it?) and we reverted to a back four but the midfield guile was still lacking and we never threatened.
On came Andre Gray and he terrorised Billy Jones sufficiently to wrap the game up before Seb Larsson finally forced a save out of Burnley’s third choice keeper Tom Pope in the 90th minute. Sean Dyche could have played his club’s Under 11 goalie in this game as our attacking threat was so puny.
Back to the coach in time to catch the rousing commentary from Sincil Bank as Lincoln City dumped Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town out of the old tin pot and Blackpool’s 50 travelling fans danced with delight at Oakwell when they grabbed a 119th minute winner.
Much of the talk during the day had been about a hard exit from the EU. Not for the first time, Sunderland found an easy way to exit the FA Cup. The exit from the Premier League draws ever closer.