This in fact was my second visit to Turf Moor this season, albeit the first was not for footballing reasons, instead we had a works meeting in one of the function rooms behind the director’s box which enabled me to see an un-favourite club from a slightly different angle, and just a few days after we had played – and beaten them – in a fairly one-sided encounter at The City Ground.
So what bearing would this all have on our current unbeaten run? Well, let’s just say it was a damn close run thing, and ought to teach one or two people a lesson on the perils of making substitutions during added time.
FLC, Monday 1st April 2013, KO 1500hrs|
Burnley 1 – 1 Nottingham Forest
|Weather/Conditions||Bright and very cold|
|Away fan experience||The decrepit David Fishwick stand – only a bulldozer could make it any better. Persistent standing as expected, but made worse by some fans standing on the wooden seats making viewing difficult for those behind. Cue the popular chant for visiting this godforsaken dump a la Sloop John B ‘I wanna go home/we get to go home’ which resonates well given the stand’s acoustics. Thanks to it being an enclosed stand there was shelter from the worst of the icy wind. Lunch taken at the nearby Cricket club, usually the only highlight of visiting Turf Moor. Friendly welcome, cheap beer and good food (despite a lengthy wait for some) removes the need for risking the revolting cardboard pies inside the ground. TV in lounge also meant being able to watch Chelsea dump The Filth out of the FA Cup. Car parking relatively easy to come by, though disinfection recommended afterwards in case some nasty horrible Dingle provides an unwanted souvenir by gobbing over your tailgate like mine was.|
|Programme||Has gone distinctly downhill compared with classy publications from last couple of visits here. Today’s version bemoaned at length their failure to win at nearby Ewood Park recently (yes, we can relate to that too!) and the carnage in the boardroom (how very topical on a day when Neil Warnock becomes the latest incumbent to part company with his club). Feature on Forest focussed heavily on our last visit here, a dismal experience with the writing on the wall for ‘Schteve’ and a gleeful account of how we were taken apart on the night. Convenient they choose to overlook this wasn’t actually our most recent encounter…. 2-0 last December, anyone?|
All the same, it was an untimely setback and we had 20 minutes to save Billy’s unbeaten record. Changes were made immediately, with our attack’s B-Shift in the form of Cox and Henderson replacing Dex and Billy, whilst Radi came on for Reidy who hadn’t had the best of games. The game entered an end-to-end phase, and it was frustrating to see moves go into touch and efforts on goal come to nothing, and of course there were still plenty of refereeing decisions to go against us – most notably a clear corner awarded as a goal kick as we entered five minutes stoppage time. I say again, five minutes stoppage time, during which The Dingles made a further substitution – so that’s another 30 seconds. Inevitably our hosts were trying to play it to a standstill with some timewasting, so probably a few further seconds added there too. Dingles fans convinced the three points were in the bag (and I gather some of their comments made on Twitter made hilarious reading for Forest fans) headed for the exits, whilst the aisles in our end were beginning to fill up with fans ready to head out. I was halfway down and with the best view of the goal I’d had all afternoon one last-gasp attack by Forest as we entered the sixth added minute. I say again, entered the sixth added minute – legitimately. Lansbury advanced into the box at speed, was sent literally flying by Long, and a more clear-cut penalty you’ll struggle to find. Still within time. Pandemonium in the stands at this late, late lifeline thrown our way, whilst The Dingles howled in disgust. There must have been almost two minutes of deliberation before Lewis was given the signal to take the kick. He never for a moment looked like missing it and duly sent Grant the wrong way. An explosion of noise from 2500 delirious Forest fans as if this were the kick to take us to the Prem. I don’t think any of us saw the ref blow for full time amid the celebrating, and by the time we looked back in his direction he was surrounded by enraged (not to mention crestfallen) Dingles which no doubt are carrying on arguing over the added time even as you read this. I could of course remind them of the unjust penalty that won them the game back in 2000 (when Prutts was penalised for handball when clearly heading the ball clear), or the one awarded to them at City Ground four seasons ago, but today I have a much simpler message to The Dingles: GET OVER IT!|
It was not until the 68th minute that the deadlock was broken – unfortunately at the wrong end. A corner to Forest (not our strongest point today by any means) was intercepted by Mills who advanced upfield, avoiding Reidy in the process before crossing to Stanislas whose deflected shot beat Darlow for a distinctly soft goal. Bizarrely the celebrations from the home fans seemed strangely muted (drowned out by the strains of Tom Hark) but as today’s programme said, The Dingles cannot exactly be classed as a fallen Premiership side – they are where they are. Wise words indeed, since this lot have about as much chance of promotion this season as The Filth have of losing their grip on the Premiership title.
One of those games where we struggled to create much in way of clear-cut chances, certainly compared with recent performances. That said, we were easily the better side for pretty much the whole game, with Burnley defending in numbers to stifle us and try and catch us on the break. Their attempts typically came to nothing as Charlie Austin (more aptly referred to as Charlie Who??) wasted their best chances before retreating into a sulk, whilst Ross Wallace reminded us of The Dingles’ pub team tendencies by getting himself booked early on for a crude tackle. Elsewhere it wasn’t quite happening with ball control being the main casualty. With six changes from Saturday this was inevitable.
|Highlights||Leaving Turf Moor is always the best part of this fixture; leaving with a point makes it even better – even if we did have to wait till the 96th minute for Lewis’s equaliser – the look on every disconsolate Dingle’s face was a picture. Billy’s unbeaten run intact (just!) and the gap between us and 4th place narrows by another point.|
|Lowlights||Another goal conceded totally against the run of play. Granted, this is a risk that comes with the attacking football we’re now enjoying, but that’s two in two games conceded in similar fashion. Overall though, this was a poor game with little to get excited about.|
|Hero||Lewis keeping a cool head at the vital moment to take a precious point. The questions over his future at Forest get ever louder. Five goals in as many games - has BD found the real Lewis at last?|
|Zero||The BBC (not Radio Nottingham) for their biased coverage both in text and spoken commentary (highlights), suggesting they were at a different game to the rest of us if they think Burnley were the better side in the first half at least. That said, Billy Sharp still looked short of pace and struggled to make much impact, though in fairness both he and Dex were starved of service for long periods.|
|Referee||Nigel Miller – spent 90+ minutes antagonising the travelling fans with some poor decisions, then redeeming himself by correctly adding to added time, much to the fury of the Dingles’ players and fans.|
|Entertainment Value||3/10 – a scrappy and disjointed encounter which not even Forest’s brand of attractive passing football could show in a positive light.|
|Promotion Rating||2 – still on target, and some daylight even opening up between 6th and 7th place, though a quick return to winning ways wouldn’t go amiss as the trip to Cardiff looms large.|
|Misc||A win at Turf Moor, long overdue it may be, (our record here since 2000 – LDLWLLLLD – including two heavy defeats in the last four is dismal enough) but a point today still represents an improvement, and our first point gained there since we last won in September 2003 in a season which crumbled not long after. Couldn’t help but chuckle at BD’s apology to the fans who attended today, well-meaning and well received though it was. I seem to remember BD’s first trip to Turf Moor as Forest manager saw us on the receiving end of a 5-0 hiding and the offer of tickets to the next game for those who made the trip. Today wasn’t bad enough to warrant a repeat of that kind of gesture, surely?|