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Burnley’s pre-season moved on in 1998 with the draw at newly promoted Halifax Town followed by a midweek trip to Christie Park to face Conference side Morecambe but it didn’t end well for the Clarets.

It was an evening when the travelling Burnley fans made it clear they weren’t happy with what was happening at the club; many were suggesting that this was a warning that the new season might even be worse than the one that we’d just endured.

We were beaten 1-0 by the non-league side and the Burnley Express report of the game suggested there was a real problem in that we looked like scoring when we played 4-4-2 while also lookid like conceding, but if we played 3-5-2 then there was a real struggle to score goals.

Playing with a back three in this game where Neil Moore, Chris Brass and Steve Blatherwick lined up, we looked assured defensively in the air but not on the ground when the home front two of John Norman and Wayne Curtis caused them many problems. Going forward, wing backs Glen Little and Paul Smith provided the only real quality and they were eventually nullified.

We did have the first big opportunity of the game when Kevin Henderson crossed for Andy Cooke but his header went over the bar and Little almost scored a superb opener but saw a shot from distance hit the woodwork.

Tony Parks rescued us on one occasion but throughout the first half we did look the more likely and Michael Williams, the best player on the night, was close with a fierce shot before Smith was just off target with a sweet left foot strike.

Nothing much changed at the start of the second half and twice Morecambe goalkeeper Andy Banks denied us a goal with brilliant goals, firstly from Cooke and then brilliantly from Williams. Just seven minutes into the half, however, we fell behind. Lee Howey, on as a substitute for the second half, gave away a free kick in a central position just outside the box. Full back John KENNADY steeped up and beat the wall and Parks to give the home side the advantage. The wall looked far from impressed with Parks’ positioning for the free kick.

Andy Cooke challenges for the ball against a Morecambe defender

We switched to 4-4-2 but to no avail. We got our first look at Ronnie Jepson too for the last twenty minutes with us switching again, this time to 4-3-3. We pushed hard for an equaliser but it didn’t come and the fans had their say as the game came to an end with us having suffered our first pre-season defeat.

It was difficult to point the finger at individual players but it just didn’t seem to be working as a team with just around a week and a half to the opening of the season.

Manager Stan Ternent said after the game: “There is certainly plenty of room for improvement after the last couple of displays, but to be honest,  I am more concerned with the performance and result against Bristol Rovers. It is also important to avoid injuries and get match fitness. It starts for real next week and we will be ready.”

Clearly the criticism from the fans had got to him and he had a word for those who had travelled to Morecambe. “I would like to say to the fans who keep saying it’s rubbish that in all fairness it has been rubbish here for a long time, and I have got the same players,” he said. “I’m not Merlin with a magic wand and a hat on my head.

“We are working hard for fitness, but if our best isn’t good enough, I will do something about it. I would also prefer it if the supporters didn’t come if they are not going to support us. Walking out saying it’s rubbish is nonsense. Judge me when it is my team.”

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