Andy Munro watches a youthful Blues side battling at St Andrews.
Whilst Lee Clarke is obviously not everybody’s cuppa, even the most heartless critic must feel for a manager who loses three players just before the kick-off, and that includes the club’s leading scorer.
Blues apparently fielded six 19 year olds and nobody could have asked for more commitment although we could have been three nil down in the first quarter. It was obvious that Burnley with the division’s leading scorer were no mugs but, then again in such a competitive league, who is? So it was with relief that the crowd witnessed Blues opening the scoring probably equivalent to a total eclipse of the moon in terms of a sighting.
It was a great cross from Hall for Curtis Davies to power a header home and things seemed set fair but this is Blues we’re talking about! Maybe it’s because they weren’t kicking towards the Tilton but at the start of the second period, they went decidedly off the boil and let Burnley back into things. Whilst Will Packwood had a super confident game at the back, Mitch Hancox, as we all know, is still a bit naïve when it comes to positioning. And so it proved, after taking out a Burnley player and earning a yellow (which could have been a red) card with a rash tackle, his positioning was all at sea as Burnley attacked down the right and scored from the resulting cross.
Then we all knew that the next goal was likely to be in our net and, after a dismal defensive lapse, only a desperate foul kept out Burnley. However even that was in vain as Burnley scored from the resulting free-kick with a superb curler that gave Butland no chance.
Still, Blues never know when they are beaten and they gained the ascendancy as Burnley tried ultimately in vain to see the time out. A deserved equaliser came in the unlikely form of Ziggy – unlikely because it was a well struck shot rather than a header. We could even have snatched it at the death when it seemed as if Redmond’s trickery had earned a penalty but it wasn’t to be.
In terms of the youngsters, Butland was again superb (yet I’ve heard some Bluenoses suggest that we ought to cash in with Colin Doyle waiting in the wings – utter claptrap in my opinion). Packwood was quite simply masterful in not putting a foot wrong and undoubtedly will become a top centre-half (his true position) within a couple of years. Hancox was full of energy and desire although needs to work on his defence. Reilly had another all action game in midfield whilst Morrison looked a different class at times in his fits and starts. Hall was generally excellent and a handful for the Burnley defence although he can overdo the dribbling sometimes whilst Redmond again blew hot and cold but undoubtedly he is better playing in a free role behind the centre forward.
In terms of the oldsters, don’t get me started on Haydn Mullins and Caldwell but at least Ziggy battled and deserved his goal. Meanwhile Curtis Davies worked hard to cover up for the deficiencies of his fellow central defender.
Overall a decent result in the circumstances, keeping the dreaded ‘R’ word out of Bluenose vocabulary.