Date: 14th September 2008 at 10:38am
Written by:

On Saturday 18th April 1964, the Clarets travelled to the City Ground and defeated Nottingham Forest 3-1 in a top flight Division One match with Ian Towers getting a brace and legend, Willie Irvine getting our other goal.

Most Clarets fans of today would not have been born although your Editor was and was actually 9 years old!

The significance of that match was that 44 years later we had not won since at the City Ground, a grim omen with once more the Clarets facing a trip to the City Ground yesterday to play newly promoted Nottingham Forest.

The doubts we could banish the curse once and for all were also mounting up based on the fact we were still looking for our first win of the 2008/9 campaign with only two draws and two points so far after four matches.

We had however shown recent improvement in defence and had kept three consecutive clean sheets and we now also had a new striker on show after signing Steven Thompson from Cardiff City on transfer deadline day. There was therefore some hope we could come away with something from the City Ground and maybe even a win for the first time in those 44 years.

For once hope defeated doubts and finally after 44 years of hurt, the Clarets claimed a 2-1 victory.

Graham Alexander was the unlikely hero scoring both our goals. One in the first half from a spectacular free-kick and one from the spot after the Clarets were awarded a penalty in the second half to restore the lead following a Forest equaliser by Earnshaw.

The victory sees the Clarets climb to 19th in the table with now 5 points from 5 games but with a negative goal difference of 5 goals.

However the Clarets will now be buoyed up and can now look forward to our next game on Tuesday night against local rivals, Blackpool at Turf Moor.

Although 19th looks pretty poor, it perhaps should be pointed out that we are also only just three points away from 5th spot so the win came at just the right time to kick-start our campaign.

On a Sunny day at the City Ground, Owen Coyle decided as expected to give a debut to our new signing, Thompson.

Kalvenes suffering from a groin injury was replaced by Jordan and with Eagles sitting out the first of his three match ban after his red card against Plymouth, the Clarets lined up as follows:

Jensen, Jordan, Carlisle, Caldwell, Anderson, McDonald, McCann, Alexander, Elliott, Paterson, Thompson

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Blake, Akinbiyi, Mahon

Nottingham Forest fielded a youthful side with one famous older face on their bench. Former Clarets loan striker, Andrew Cole just one month away from his 37th birthday returned to the sixteen as expected after recovering from a niggling calf injury. Would he face his former colleagues? The strong feeling was that he would at some point and so it proved.

Clive Penton (Sussex) was the referee as the match got underway.

Penton was last in charge of a match involving the Clarets when we played Leicester away last season.

Cotterill had just left by mutual consent and caretaker manager, Steve Davis took charge of his one and only game so far. We came away winners that day, so could Penton bring us that little bit of luck we desperately needed at this ground?

The game started lively as 1133 Clarets fans, braving the trip to Nottingham wondered if they could possibly see their first victory at this ground since 1964.

Thompson looked to battle hard in his debut and it soon became clear this was exactly the type of bruising player we had missed in the last few matches.

Our new striker arrived on transfer deadline day but had had little chance to train with fellow striker,Martin Paterson due to the latter`s Northern Ireland International call up and the two week break.

All eyes were therefore on the two strikers wondering how the partnership would develop and how quickly they would settle down and reach that understanding.

Thompson was soon into action though in our first attack, keeping Wes Morgan at bay his cross was cleared.

Both sides looked attack minded with the game developing into end to end entertainment.

A deflected shot from Chris McCann was saved comfortably by Forest keeper, Paul Smith.

Forest striker, Nathan Tyson in the 16th minute should have done better on the break following a mix up between McCann and Alexander but the Clarets survived after he fired over.

The Clarets however were the first to break the deadlock on 25 minutes.

The aggressive Thompson was brought down trying to get possession 25 yards from goal and the referee had no option but to award a free kick. Chris McCann made a gentle tap to Alexander who let rip with a curling right foot shot that soared into net just inside the far post to put the Clarets 1-0 up.

It was Alexander again, relishing his new role just in front of the back four, who on 30 minutes stormed into the Forest half just failing to score his second goal with a left foot shot that went just wide.

With nine minutes to go, Kevin McDonald got in a low shot after some nice play between Alexander and Elliott. More pace on the shot and it may have gone in at the near post.

Nottingham Forest seemed unable to break down the Clarets and had to resort to ineffective long balls leaving Jensen little to do for most of the half as the Forest fans frustrations began to grow.

However, Jensen showed he was still alert with just seconds of the half remaining. Danger man, Rob Earnshaw shot from six yards out but somehow ‘The Beast` got a shoulder to the ball to deny the Welsh International.

That was it for the first half as the Clarets marched into the dressing room 1-0 up after a spirited performance.

Owen Coyle would have been the happier of the two managers at half-time and he didn`t feel the need to make any changes as the second half got underway.

Forest gaffer, Colin Calderwood though must have given his team a rocket as they surged into action at the start of the second half with explosive style making the Clarets look like damp squibs.

Within 6 minutes they had equalised as the shell-shocked Clarets wondered what had hit them.

Forest had been awarded a doubtful free kick and as the ball came in, Caldwell got a head to it only to see it cannon off the crossbar straight into the path of Earnshaw. He made no mistake with an empty net in front of him, scoring from just a few yards out.

The Clarets however responded positively and almost immediately after the goal, Thompson got in a header that was cleared but Forest came back on the break.

James Perch got in a shot bringing out a low save by Jensen diving to his left.

How would the Clarets now react with Forest firing on all cylinders, buoyed up by the equaliser?

For a time we were certainly under the cosh as the Forest fire continued and it was time for Coyle to make some changes.

Robbie Blake came on for Paterson after 57 minutes and Gudjonsson replaced McDonald after 63 minutes.

The new injection of fresh legs seemed to work.

Jordan got in a dangerous cross that Smith saved at the expense of a corner. McCann got in a header from the corner bringing out an impressive one-handed save by the Forest keeper.

Akinbiyi then came on for debutant, Thompson with 67 minutes on the clock joining Blake up front and three minutes later the Clarets took the lead 2-1.

Blake pounced after a hesitant Forest defence gave him the chance to feed Akinbiyi. Akinbiyi`s pass back was handled and the referee awarded the Clarets their first penalty since Andy Gray scored from the spot at Charlton in December 2007.

This season`s allocated penalty taker, Graham Alexander stepped up to take the penalty and coolly thundered the ball into the back of the net to restore the Clarets lead.

Former Clarets loan Andrew Cole finally got on with 10 minutes to go in a double substitution with Forest now desperate to get something from the match.

It was Akinbiyi though who nearly made sure of victory after some hesitant defending. He got in a powerful header only for Smith to turn the ball round the post.

The Clarets now had to sweat out the final few minutes of the match, not helped by four minutes of added time being announced. The historic victory was ours though as the final whistle blew, our first win at the City Ground in a remarkable 44 years!! One more hoodoo ground can now be ticked off!!


Nottm Forest: Smith, Chambers (McCleary 80), Morgan, Wilson, Heath (Cole 80), Martin, Perch, Moussi, Cohen, Tyson, Earnshaw.

Subs Not Used: Roberts, Breckin, Thornhill.

Goals: Earnshaw 52.

Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Anderson, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Elliott, McDonald (Gudjonsson 63), McCann, Thompson (Akinbiyi 67), Paterson (Blake 57).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon.

Booked: Anderson, Elliott.

Goals: Alexander 25, 70 pen.

Ref: Clive Penton (Sussex).