A special night to remember
Two goals up at Old Trafford against Manchester United brought back all the fears built up from a lot of games I’ve seen there, including those in the last two seasons, when the home team have come back to rob us of victory with late goals. But not this time, and for the first time since 1962, we’ve beaten them on their own patch on a night I’m sure we’ll never forget.
Chris Wood opened the scoring with a really good finish at what always used to be called the scoreboard end. It was the first goal we’ve scored at that end since the 1970s. It was a good finish, but early in the second half that lead was doubled with a special goal from Jay Rodriguez, an absolute stunner with his left foot that he dared to suggest afterwards was usually used for standing on.
This time there was no Manchester United comeback. This time the home fans turned on their owners along with Ed Woodward and long, long, long before the end they were taking part in the fire drill that left us celebrating almost alone in the away corner for the final few minutes of the game and beyond.
My first visit there came in 1965 for a fifth round FA Cup tie. We’d led with an Andy Lochhead goal scored in the 17th minute and looked certain to win it until George Best decided to run around with one of his boots in his hand and set up two goals for Denis Law and Paddy Crerand in the 84th and 85th minutes. That has so often been the pattern on my visits and that left me arriving last night for the 19th time against them and still searching for my first win, the only successful night in my time coming seven seasons ago when we beat them in the FA Youth Cup.
A year ago next week, we travelled there in wintery conditions with the snow falling; yesterday it was fog in the area as we left Burnley. There were no hold ups and, given we’d played so well there last season, I opted for the same route, the X43 to Prestwich and a lift from there.
As we made our way there we learned that we’d made one team change. I’d suspected that Phil Bardsley might miss out against his former club because of the back problem that was clearly hampering him in the win against Leicester, probably sustained when we went over Harvey Barnes during the first half. That gave Matt Lowton a return to the team and with injuries leaving us without enough senior players, it was another opportunity for young midfielder Mace Goodridge to get a place on the bench.
United probably started the better. They did have a couple of opportunities and one in particular when some outstanding defending by Charlie Taylor prevented Anthony Martial from getting in a clean shot. But, generally, we were more than holding our own in the first half although during one spell of defending I did say that we could do with going in at half time with the scores level.
That suggestion was shoved right into my face within a couple of minutes. Chris Wood had come closest for us with a header that went just wide of David de Gea’s post but around six minutes before half time he broke the deadlock.
We won a free kick close to the half way line which Ashley Westwood sent towards the penalty box. Ben Mee headed it down for Wood who finished left footed into the corner. It really was a smart finish from Wood, who has now taken his goal tally for the season into double figures, but we’d seen nothing yet when it came to finishes.
So, Burnley 2-0 up at Old Trafford. I’d been fine at 0-0, a little nervous at 1-0, but now I was in a right state; the nerves worse than at any time and I have to say I didn’t really enjoy much of what followed until perhaps the final 90 seconds of the four minutes added on at the end. I’ve been there so often when it’s gone wrong, I suppose I almost expected it to.
In truth, they had a lot of the ball but we didn’t go deeper and deeper and allow them to come on to us. To be honest, they didn’t really threaten us too much. They fired a couple of shots high and wide from distance, they did force Nick Pope into a couple of saves, but you sensed this might be the night as the home side got more and more frustrated.
The game had been played in front of a lot of empty seats; I’d love to know how many were really in there last night, but as we moved into the last few minutes of the ninety, they exercised that fire drill as the home fans and tourists started to stream out.
They got the ball in the net in the 90th minute but there had been a clear foul on Jeff Hendrick spotted even by Jon Moss who immediately indicated a free kick. We then awaited the board. How much Fergie time would there be? Four minutes said Martin Atkinson and the countdown started.
There wasn’t one second of panic during those added minutes. This game, looking back on it now, was won long before and finally we’d ended that long, long run without a win at Old Trafford.
September 1962 – we lined up: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, David Walker, John Talbut, Brian Miller, John Connelly, Ray Pointer, Andy Lochhead, Jimmy McIlroy, Gordon Harris.
That team is now consigned to history. When we talk about our last win at Old Trafford, we don’t need to go back so far as this fantastic team of ours has come out of a difficult run and secured six points from two games with this win, one we’ll all remember for a long, long time.
Manchester United were the first team I ever saw us beat. That was back in October 1960 at home. Last night, Old Trafford became the 100th ground I’ve seen Burnley win a league game at. What a place to get to your ton.
We have a man of the match vote on the site, the link is below. Go ahead, choose who you like because I won’t disagree with you. We had eleven heroes out there last night. I love watching Burnley but some games are just a bit more special than others. Last night is more than worthy of being on the special list.
The teams were;
Manchester United: David de Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Brandon Williams (Luke Shaw 69), Nemanja Matic, Fred, Andreas Pereira (Mason Greenwood ht), Juan Mata, Daniel James (Jesse Lingard 69), Anthony Martial. Subs not used: Sergio Romero, Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Angel Gomes.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Mace Goodridge, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Yellow Cards: Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood.
Referee: Jon Moss (Horsforth).
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