Date: 7th March 2011 at 12:09pm
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Burnley fans travelled to the intimidating Den Stadium in South Bermondsey earlier in the season to see their team play Millwall. The game was played on Saturday 2nd October 2010 in front of a crowd of 12,330 fans. In the end we came away with s well-earned point considering we were reduced to ten-men for most of the game. The Clarets had to settle for the 1-1 draw thanks mainly to a crass decision by the referee who decided to send Clarke Carlisle off the pitch for a foul after just seven minutes.

With Bikey already struggling with an injured rib, Carlisle on the touchline miss-timed a challenge on Theo Robinson with the referee than having a moment of madness and flashing red at our unfortunate captain.

Well if it was a foul then surely a yellow card at most was in order with the match only a few minutes old? The ridiculous decision effectively killed the game for the Clarets and spoilt the day out for the travelling fans. Was it even a foul? Brian Laws was livid about the decision and said after the game:

‘It wasn’t a sending off. I thought it was very harsh.

‘I don’t know whether the referee has been given a message to stamp down on any challenges whatsoever, but the first five minutes? Clarke’s clearly not caught the player and his challenge was low”

With Carlisle off the pitch, Laws had no option but to change things round and make his first substitution. Dean Marney was the one to go off and you had to feel for him. He was clearly unhappy at being substituted with only 8 minutes on the clock. We had to bolster the defence though and Michael Duff came on to partner Bikey.

Things were going to get worse though for the Clarets in the back four. Bikey had earlier collided with Morison and needed treatment after clutching his rib. He carried on for a while but it was clear he had not fully recovered and was struggling. Laws had no option to take him off and within five minutes of the sending-off we had to make our second change in the centre of defence and make our second substitution. So on came former Millwall player, Leon Cort to play his first match of the season in the Championship.

Millwall fans, celebrating their club`s 125th anniversary now burst into life convincing themselves they would now have an easy ride and secure a win. The Clarets though gave them a shock and a bloody nose when the ten fighting men showed great spirit to take the lead on 22 minutes. Jay Rodriguez headed home from Eagles right-wing cross stunning the Millwall faithful into silence.

Our lead though was short-lived. Just four minutes later, Millwall had equalised. Scott Barron levelled for the hosts when he drilled home from the edge of the area to make it 1-1. The pressure was now on with the Clarets down to ten men with a makeshift defence. We fought though with spirit and determination and none more so than Brian Jensen. His saves continued to keep the Clarets in the game and we even had our own moments when we could have taken the lead again.

We held on for the point in the end although most Clarets fans came away thinking ‘if only`. There is no doubt with eleven men we would probably have won our first league away win of the season at the time but the daft ref scuppered that idea.

The Match Stats for that day read as follows:

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Craig (Schofield 46), Barron, Mkandawire, Ward, Hackett, Abdou (Carter 79), Morison, Robinson (Harris 69)

Subs Not Used: Mildenhall, Smith, Henry, Laird.

Goal: Barron 26

Booked: Yellow cards for Dunne and Craig

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey (Cort 14), Fox, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney (Duff 9), Rodriguez, Iwelumo (Thompson 76)

Subs Not Used: Grant, Alexander, Wallace, Paterson

Goal: Rodriguez 22

Booked: Straight Red card for Clarke Carlisle, Yellow card for Eagles

Possession: 53% Millwall, 47% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Kevin ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ Stroud (Hampshire)

Can Clarets fans recall the last time we played them before this season? It was actually in the 2005-6 season and Steve Cotterill was our manager at the time. Since that time we have gone our separate ways. Burnley of course staying in the Championship for a few seasons before a brief flirtation in the Premier League last season with Millwall relegated to League 1 at the end of the 2005-6 season eventually clawing their way back to the Championship. They were promoted last season after beating Swindon 1-0 in the League One Play Offs final at Wembley.

The 2005-6 season for the Clarets was a pretty average one and we were to finish in 17th spot in Steve Cotterill`s second season with the club. Millwall on the other hand as said before, suffered relegation finishing second from bottom but they still had the last laugh over the Clarets beating us 1-0 at the New Den in the penultimate game of the season.

Earlier in the season though back in November 2005, at least we secured three points by beating them 2-1 at Turf Moor albeit in front of a less than enthusiastic crowd of just 11,701.

We lined-up on the Tuesday night of 1st November as follows:

Jensen, Sinclair, Duff, Lowe, Harley, Elliott, J.O`Connor, Hyde, G. O`Connor, Spicer, Akinbiyi

Nathan Dyer, Gifton Noel-Williams and Duane Courtney would also make an appearance for the Clarets from the bench.

It all started badly for the Clarets and they found themselves behind after just one minute of play. We just could not get into the game and went in 1-0 down at half-time. We left it late in the second half to secure all three points thanks to a goal from substitute Nathan Dyer on 76 minutes. Four minutes later and Elliott made it 2-1. This was the second game of a four match winning streak including our next match away to Luton Town. A 3-2 victory in a match that had everything with Akinbiyi scoring a hat-trick and the Clarets reduced to ten men after Jensen was sent off and Spicer took over in goal! By the end of this sequence of victories we had climbed from 17th to 8th and by Christmas were looking good for a play-offs place. Our traditional festive slump though and the inevitable selling of our key players in the January window (this time Akinbiyi to Sheffield United) put paid to all that and by the time we travelled to Millwall for the return game we were in 16th spot having won just 2 games and drawn 4 in the last 12 matches! We had though been undefeated in the last six matches so there was some hope of getting something from this clash although our last victory on the road was the one alluded to above against Luton at Kenilworth Road back in November.

The game away to Millwall on Saturday 22nd April 2006 was a grim affair and one that all Clarets fans would instantly want to forget. The Millwall fans having already seen their club relegated not to mention losing their latest manager, Tuttle were not in a good mood! There had been fans demonstrations the week before and even some booing during the Millwall Player of the Season Awards on the pitch before kick-off! There was a heavy police presence but on the flipside a very low gate with only 7780 fans in total bothering to turn up. 300 brave, truly dedicated Clarets fans had made the journey south and deserved something better from this match but they came away empty-handed after seeing their side suffer a 1-0 defeat.

The good news for the Clarets was that at least recently we had added to the ranks with both Andy Gray and Alan Mahon arriving on loan and about to be signed permanently in the close season. Steve Cotterill chose the following team selection for the game:

Jensen, Duff, McGreal, Sinclair, Harley, Mahon, J O’Connor, Hyde, Branch, Ricketts, Gray

Subs: Karbassiyoon, Elliott, G O’Connor, Lafferty, Spicer

Millwall started the most brightly in this match, pressing strongly in the first few minutes with the Clarets looking very shaky in defence. It was only poor shooting and control by the Lions that allowed the Clarets to survive this period.

The Clarets got one or two openings with Ricketts in particular looking on form but it all seemed to soon fizzle out and we should be thankful to the Beast for having an easy time snuffing out most of Millwall’s attacks.

Nothing very memorable in this match at all so far and on 38 minutes our problems were compounded with John McGreal having to leave the pitch injured to be replaced by John Spicer.

So there everybody was at the end of the first half, counting down the clock and seeing whether they could find the ideal length of matchstick to keep their eyelids open when disaster struck for the Clarets.

James O’Connor lost the plot in the last minute of added time and attempted a sloppy header back to the keeper only for Williams to pounce on it and volley a right-footed shot into the net from about 18 yards.

The second half was just as dire as the first for the Clarets. In fact listening to the game on Clarets World, I think I must have finally succombed and fallen asleep because I don`t remember any shots on goal or indeed any action worth talking about. This was also apparent by the number of corners with nine Millwall corners to precisely zero for the Clarets! Not that we would have scored from any corners.

Elliott came on for Ricketts after 63 minutes which had precisely no affect whatsoever and referee Penton added Lions’ Williams to his yellow card collection in the final minute to supplement Branch and Spicer but that was it. Dreadful, terrible game and nothing to show for it as the final whistle blew.

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