Football: Sense of adventure deserts Burnley's killjoys

Liverpool 1 Burnley 0
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The Independent Online
At times of severe weather, the Government used to ask: "Is your journey really necessary?" The same question might be addressed to Burnley, who came to Anfield with tactics as inflexible as a frozen pond and went away quite indecently pleased with themselves.

To deploy all their energies in defending a draw would have been entirely understandable. To continue to play the same way after going behind after only 11 minutes was far less so.

Not that their manager, Adrian Heath, a Cup winner himself with Everton, felt inclined to apologise. "It wouldn't have done our confidence any good to come here and be beaten by five or six, which is what could have happened if we had tried to play expansive football," he argued.

On a day when other lower division clubs conceded six or seven goals, there was an icy logic to this philosophy. But if every underdog subscribed to it, there would never have been a Cup upset; Heath's realism would take all the romance out of the competition.

None of this is any criticism of the determined efforts of Burnley's players. They had, Heath said, stuck to his game plan when they might have preferred to play a different way. Within the narrow horizons set for them, there was something heroic about their rigidity.

It took a handful of fine saves from Marlon Beresford and a goal-line clearance by Mark Winstanley to keep the score down, but the collective ethic was best summed up by Gerry Harrison, a midfielder who doubled up as an extra defender and who demonstrated that the best way to keep warm was never to stop moving.

After Stan Collymore's well-struck 20-yard shot that gave them the lead, Liverpool - the pre-match Cup favourites - did not do a great deal to warm their supporters. Their manager, Roy Evans, felt they should have had more goals and, unusually for him, laid most of the blame for their failure to get them on one man. "Patrik Berger got into some good positions, but should have done better in getting the ball to men who were better placed," he said.

He had no criticism, however, of Burnley's approach, even if some of their own 7,500 travelling supporters got restive by the end. Making life difficult for Liverpool carries some kudos, but the plaintive cry of "attack, attack, attack" showed that they, too, thought there should be a little more to the Cup than that.

Goal: Collymore (12) 1-0.

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Wright, Matteo, Babb; McAteer, McManaman, Thomas, J Barnes (Kennedy, 66), Bjornebye; Collymore, Berger. Substitutes not used: L Jones, Warner (gk).

Burnley (5-3-1-1): Beresford; Parkinson, Harrison, Winstanley, Hoyland (Cooke, 77), Eyres; Weller (Little, 71), Brass, Cleghorn; Smith; P Barnes. Substitute not used: Thompson.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).

Bookings: Liverpool Thomas, Babb; Burnley Parkinson.

Man of the match: Harrison. Attendance: 33,252.

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