Town 6 - 1 Burnley
Tuesday, 14th Oct 2003 23:19
Rampant Town demolished Burnley 6-1 with a rip-roaring display as they climbed to seventh. A stunning first half saw the Blues go in 5-0 at the break. The second half was always going to be an anti-climax with Shefki Kuqi's sixth the only addition while Burnley's Delroy Facey grabbed a consolation.
Georges Santos overcame his groin injury and lined up in his usual central defensive role. Despite their flu epidemic Burnley managed to field a full eleven with four players on the bench.
Robbie Blake hit the first serious attempt at goal wide in the third minute after Richard Naylor had mis-cleared. Shefki Kuqi had Town's first effort charged down after a decent run, the Finn putting his rebound over the bar.
Gareth Farrelly profited from some lax Blues' defending in the eighth minute, but the ex-Everton player shot straight at Kelvin Davis from the edge of the box.
On 11 Kuqi went wide after Jim Magilton had seized on a poor clearance from Clarets' keeper Brian Jensen. Magilton played the ball to Pablo Couñago who moved it on to Kuqi.
Blake caused a moment of danger for Town fans when his edge of the area freekick made it through a Blues' wall but went straight to Kelvin Davis.
The Blues were gradually starting to take control and in the 20th minute they went ahead. Pablo Couñago took the ball into the area from an Alan Mahon pass before stabbing the ball past the keeper.
After Farrelly had hit a 30 yarder over the bar, Town scored again. Couñago took on a ball from an Alan Mahon header before setting himself and placing the ball past Jensen.
Town were by now totally on top and in the 28th minute the third goal came. Fabian Wilnis twice tried to cross from the right, the second time the ball landing at Jermaine Wright's feet just to the left, on the edge of the box. Wright belted the ball goalwards, Jensen beaten to his right.
Two minutes later it was four as Burnley were completely torn apart by Town's passing. Chris Bart-Williams picked the ball up not far inside the Burnley half played it into Jim Magilton on the edge of the box before belting the return ball past Jensen who was yet to make a save despite being four goals down. It was Bart-Williams' first goal of his loan spell.
On 34 the Clarets were close to getting one back but Paul Weller put the ball over from only a yard or so out at the far post from a left-wing corner.
A minute later Ian Moore got himself in the book for a late tackle from behind on Georges Santos inside the centre circle which looked to have caused the Frenchman a fair amount of discomfort.
Jim Magilton became the second player in the book three minutes later for dissent after showing his displeasure at a two-footed challenge by Mo Camara, the Guinean winning the ball despite the ferocious nature of his tackle.
From the resultant Alan Mahon corner the ball avoided all heads and landed at the feet of Richard Chaplow who failed to react in time to stop it bouncing off his shins and into the net for Town's fifth. It was an own goal up there with the best of them and fairly typical of the way the evening had gone for Stan Ternent's side.
Before the break Camara hit a low shot which Davis claimed at the second attempt. It had been an extraordinary half and the Blues were given a standing ovation. The midfield had almost completely controlled things with Kuqi and especially Couñago causing the visiting defence no end of problems.
It was always going to be difficult to keep up the momentum in the second half, but few were expecting Burnley to score early on. However, after Jermaine Wright had failed to clear Chaplow crossed from the left and Delroy Facey tapped in at the far post.
Prior to that Jim Magilton had tried to chip Jensen, the keeper doing well to stretch and pluck the ball above his head.
Town continued to have much of the play but without the same urgency as in the first half. Kuqi had a strike deflected over before Wright also went over from a Richards lay-off inside the penalty area, the full-back unusually far forward.
Burnley were more in the game in the second period, as much as a side can be when 5-1 down, and in the 62nd minute Farrelly shot over.
Two minutes later Mahon's effort was tipped over after fine work from Couñago who had made taken the ball across the face of goal before laying it off to the Irishman.
Wright had a shot deflected over and then Mahon took the ball from the halfway line unchallenged but put his 30 yard shot wide.
On 75 Jim Magilton curled a freekick off the bar after Couñago had been fouled by Lee Roche on the edge of the box.
While Jensen was preparing to take the goalkick 17-year-old centre-half Gerard Nash was given a senior debut, the Irishman taking over from Georges Santos, the Frenchman receiving a rapturous reception from around Portman Road after another dominating display at the back.
Soon after Ian Westlake replaced Jim Magilton who also received an ovation from the Blues' support.
Couñago came close to his second hat-trick in English football when he headed a Westlake cross on to the roof of the net before he did actually put the ball in the net, only to see a linesman's flag raised.
With four minutes remaining Burnley hit the bar, Camara's 35-yard strike from wide on the left leaving Davis beaten.
Alan Mahon had sent a 35-yard shot over the bar before the Blues finally added to their total in the 90th minute. Ian Westlake, again busy and impressive in a short spell on the field, crossed deep from the left to Shefki Kuqi. The loanee striker brought the ball inside before lashing a shot back across Jensen and into the net.
Westlake himself almost added a seventh in injury time, his 30-yard shot catching a defender and just beating Jensen's post.
A marvellous display from Town, a team display of guile, decent finishing and in the main solid defending. From Kelvin Davis, who again did little wrong, through to the defence, midfield and both attackers, no one had anything less than an excellent game.
The first half was as good a display as you'll see while the second was still impressive despite the game already having been won. Burnley were well and truly outclassed, although they may point to their flu crisis and general lack of playing staff.
However, there is little doubt that Town's performance, particularly in the first half, was absolutely devastating. Six wins in seven is a stark contrast tow Town's start and from talk of relegation a few weeks ago a serious promotion challenge now looks a real possibility.
Town: Davis, Wilnis, Richards, Naylor, Santos (Nash 75), Magilton (Westlake 77), Wright, Bart-Williams, Mahon, Couñago, Kuqi.
Photo: Action Images
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