History making Clarets but for all the wrong reasons
A 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor has given Lincoln City the honour of becoming the first non-league club to reach the last eight of the FA Cup and in doing so the inflicted the record on Burnley of having become the first top flight club to lose twice in the competition to non-league clubs.
I was at the Turf in 1975 when Southern League Wimbledon came and beat us 1-0 in the 3rd round and today I was at the Turf witnessing us lose by that very same scoreline when Lincoln, against all the odds, scored right at the end from a corner to leave the ground stunned.
It wasn’t a good Burnley performance by any means, in fact it was downright poor, but at no point, other than one worrying moment in the opening minutes, did I ever think we might lose the game against a team who hadn’t previously had an effort on target.
Finding anything positive to write about the game is difficult. It was scrappy from the start, littered with little fouls here and there and not helped by referee Graham Scott who I consider to be one of the Premier League’s worst referees.
The day had started so well too. There was no reason to think that Burnley, even despite making a number of changes, would be anything other than too good for Lincoln even though Sean Dyche made six changes from the team that had drawn that game against Chelsea six days earlier.
One of the five to remain in the starting line up was, surprisingly, goalkeeper and captain Tom Heaton but there were three changes to the back four in front of him with only Michael Keane remaining from last week. Both of the wide midfield places brought change with the one other change seeing Sam Vokes play rather than Ashley Barnes.
The first chance of the game fell to Jack Muldoon but he failed to find the target with what proved to be their only real chance until the winner went in.
As for us, we didn’t seem to be able to get things going at all with Johann Berg Gudmundsson the one player who looked as though he might provide the creative spark. Unfortunately his afternoon was to last just under twenty minutes. He was the victim of a nasty foul by Alan Power, for which he received a yellow card. He tried to continue after treatment but it was quickly obvious he couldn’t stay on.
The rest of the half was frustrating to say the least. We did not look very good but we did create some chances, none more so than one which saw Andre Gray fire his shot too close to goalkeeper Paul Farman.
Joey Barton hit a powerful shot from just outside the box that went straight at Farman and a bit of trickery from James Tarkowski set up Scott Arfield who fired over the bar.
As the players trooped off for half time we consoled ourselves with the belief that they couldn’t play any better in the second half than they’d done in the first and we couldn’t play much worse. That theory suggested we would go on to win the game.
Early in the second half we saw Arfield just fail to reach a ball from Gray and then watched as Gray shot wide from a Joey Barton free kick.
If this was the improvement we were expecting then it didn’t last long and the game got scrappy and certainly petty with both Tarkowski and Barton, in separate incidents, maybe fortunate not to suffer more than a telling off from the referee.
Not as though Lincoln were innocent victims; they were the initial cause of much of it but we really shouldn’t have got involved and it was incredible, given his impeccable behaviour since joining Burnley in August 2015, to see Barton get involved, particularly with their rotund forward Matt Rhead.
Things did all settle down and we started to put them under some pressure as the game moved into its final phase. We did create a number of situations but with about ten minutes to go I started thinking about a trip to Sincil Bank in just over a week’s time.
That, I really did think, was worse case scenario, but could we prevent that with a late goal? Incredibly the late goal came but at the other end to send the away fans into raptures in the cricket field stand.
They won a corner from the left which resulted in a corner on the right. That came over beyond the far post where a Lincoln striker had so much space it was hard to believe. He headed it back towards what was the far post for him and Sean Raggett headed goalwards. Heaton pushed it out but he was so far behind the line, Scott’s watch signalled that the ball had gone in and Lincoln were on their way to the 6th round.
Despite the addition of five extra minutes, plus another one the referee found, there was never any real likelihood of an equaliser and this was very much Lincoln’s day.
Good luck to them, it’s turning into a terrific season for them and they even had more good news to come with both Dagenham & Redbridge and Forest Green Rovers, their closest rivals in the National League, both losing.
The Lincoln fans will have had a hell of a day out. We’ve had days when we’ve had cup wins beyond expectation, and the League Cup victory at Chelsea always springs to mind. It will be a day to remember for them.
We can only wish them and their club well now for the rest of the season but from our point of view we must ensure there is not another performance like this for the remainder of the season. Our two cup exits this season, the other being at Accrington, have been totally embarrassing.
I thought I’d seen the last of these days with Wimbledon but alas not. And this time they didn’t need a Dickie Guy in goal turning in a wonder performance.
Please no one say we can concentrate on the league. I wanted this cup run, I wanted to be in the 6th round and I’ve hated today.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Keane, James Tarkowski, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (George Boyd 20), Ashley Westwood, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Ashley Barnes 73), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Dan Agyei.
Yellow Cards: Joey Barton, Ashley Barnes.
Lincoln: Paul Farman, Bradley Wood, Sam Habergham, Luke Waterfall, Jack Muldoon (Dayle Southwell 64), Alan Power, Matt Rhead (Jamie McCombe 90+1), Terry Hawkridge (Joe Ward 81), Sean Raggett, Nathan Arnold, Alex Woodyard. Subs not used: Richard Walton, Sean Long, Adam Marriott, Jack McMenemy.
Yellow Cards: Alan Power, Bradley Wood.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
Attendance: 19,185 (including 3,213 from Lincoln).
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