Date: 18th April 2006 at 9:44am
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Well we now know which teams will be automatically promoted from this division, which teams will battle it out in the play offs and which teams will be relegated!

The Owls secured a 2-0 away win at Brighton, condemning the Albion to League 1 football next season whilst at the same time making sure Crewe and Millwall would be joining them.

Reading will be joined by the Blades in the Premiership. Sheffield United secured promotion on Saturday and guaranteed that the Clarets would get an extra £125,000 as part of the Ade Akinbiyi deal.

It was also known for sometime that Watford, Leeds, Preston and the team we faced yesterday, Crystal Palace would fight for the third promotion spot in the play-off matches.

Palace therefore faced the Clarets at the Turf on Saturday already knowing they would be in the play-offs and everybody was therefore wondering whether they would rest players for the battle ahead and make the Clarets task somewhat easier.

It turned out that indeed they did put Johnson and Freedman on the bench. In true Phil Bird style on Clarets World radio, he tempted fate by saying in the second half ‘Well I dont think Ian Dowie will risk bringing on Johnson and Freedman now’ to be followed a few minutes later by both of them coming on with about 25 minutes to go! It didnt really have an effect though as yet another 0-0 match was played out, this being the third 0-0 game for the Clarets in four matches with only one goal in the other match in the 1-0 defeat of QPR.

Steve Cotterill will be happy that we have kept a clean sheet now in the last four matches and been undefeated in six. He may have some regret however that we seem to have yet again dried up in front of goal despite numerous chances in this Easter Monday match.

The Clarets starting line-up was slightly changed from the Hull match with Bardsley still out injured. The back four as expected therefore was Sinclair at right back, Harley at left back with Duff and McGreal in the centre.It is good to see Michael Duff retaining that central role, its the position he prefers and he seems to be making it his own

Kyle Lafferty was relegated to the bench with Micah Hyde coming in for his first full game for sometime. We were also informed by Phil Bird that Michael Ricketts had picked up a knock before the Hull game and had not even trained over the Easter period. Speculation that he might have gone back to Leeds refused to be dampened despite this announcement! We started the match 4-4-2 therefore with Branch upfront with Gray.

The Clarets started brightly with Alan Mahon making some nice touches. Chris McCann came close after 18 minutes with a left-footed shot hitting the post from 12 yards.McCann later pulled a muscle and was replaced by Lafferty after 39 minutes.

Soares pulled back Harley after 41 minutes and the referee, Mike Dean had no hesitation in booking the player for the first of four yellow cards in this match. The referee, who would be in charge of the FA Cup Final this season seemed to have a much better first half than second half.

The half-time whistle went with the Clarets having by far the better of the first half but with no goals to show for it.

The second half started brightly for the Clarets but again that elusive goal would not come. Harley seemed to be harshly booked after 52 minutes. After 56 minutes we again hit the post, this time from Andy Gray’s left footed shot from about 12 yards! It just would not go in the back of the net all afternoon!

The most telling pressure from the Clarets in this match came from the fact we had 9 free kicks and 8 corners in the second half alone and could not score from any of these. This really is becoming an issue now and something we have to work on for next season. When was the last time the Clarets scored from a corner? Answers on a postcard!

Branch was booked for dissent after 65 minutes in what seemed another harsh decision having deemed to have fouled Ben Watson. The referee now seemed to be getting whistle happy as another player, this time Palace’s Borrowdale was booked on 76 minutes. There were also shouts for a Clarets penalty but the referee who was only 10 yards away from the incident would have none of it.

Alan Mahon, was promptly announced as the Sponsors Man of the Match, and then promptly failed to see Andy Gray in a glorious position to score. If only he had passed the ball and not attempted to go it alone!

After 84 minutes,Kyle Lafferty, for the second match running had a glorious opportunity to score but sadly fluffed it again as his tame shot from about 12 yards hit the goalkeeper’s midriff. The lad needs to work on his confidence in front of goal.

The last few minutes of the match were played out with perhaps Palace having their best spell but really based on the possession and goal attempts, not to mention the number of corners and free kicks, the Clarets should have won this game.

It was not to be but we are now 14th with six more points to play for in our last two matches against Millwall at the Den and Luton at the Turf!

Well of course, I would hope we get those points and finish at least 13th as per last season but to be honest it is difficult to get enthused in these matches which to be honest are pointless! I just cant wait for the close season and the transfer speculation to begin. Its the life blood of Footy websites. All of them seem quiet at the moment with everything more or less decided. Oh well we also have the play-offs to endure and the World Cup to contend with, so things should improve soon


B Jensen, F Sinclair, M Duff, J McGreal, J Harley, A Mahon, C McCann (39 K Lafferty) , M Hyde, J O’Connor, G Branch, A Gray

Subs: D Karbassiyoon, W Elliott, G O’Connor, K Lafferty, J Spicer

Crystal Palace

G Kiraly, E Boyce, D Ward, M Hudson, G Borrowdale, T Soares, B Watson, M Leigertwood (61 M Hughes) , M Reich, C Morrison (67 A Johnson) , J Macken (69 D Freedman)

Subs: A Johnson, D Freedman, M Hughes, D Butterfield, J Speroni

Ref: M Dean

Att: 11449