Football: Waddle on the precipice

Millwall 1 Grant 21 Burnley 0 Attendance: 7,582
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The Independent Online
THE recent form of both sides has offered little reason for the raising of glasses in their respective hostelries, although by the end of the season Millwall might be worth a pint to celebrate keeping clear of the relegation mire.

But it will take a lot of drink to drown Burnley's sorrows as one of Lancashire's great clubs took another step towards the trapdoor that could plunge them into the Third Division - this was their seventh league game without a win.

Their present status in Nationwide Division Two is as incomprehensible as "The Weather in Norwegian" - Millwall sponsor L!ve TV's contribution to the culture of Cool Britannia.

Chris Waddle's first taste of management is several worlds away from his golden playing days but his was still the inspiration for whatever challenge Burnley could muster. The difference between those worlds was perfectly illustrated in injury time when the player-manager`s dream pass gave Phil Smith a clear sight of goal and should have brought an equaliser - undeserved though it might have been. But the tall striker shaved the wrong side of Mark Crossley's post with his shot.

Despite long periods of Millwall dominance, the game was still decided by a solitary 21st-minute goal when the Burnley defence were definitely out to lunch. Andy Gray's tenacity won a midfield scuffle and his accurate pass sliced apart the visitors' defence for Kim Grant to stride down on Chris Woods and beat the former England goalkeeper with a firm volley.

It was Woods who had kept Burnley in with even a ghost of a chance in the second half. His classiest save was to touch another Grant volley on to the crossbar, but a dash to the edge of the box to block Danny Hockton and a low dive to Paul Shaw's shot were just as vital. Woods was also grateful for Mark Winstanley being in the right place on his goal line to clear a Grant header.

Waddle had slowed down to walking pace midway through the second half, but the younger legs around him moved only when he pulled the strings.

He must have been sick when six minutes from time his curling free-kick was nodded down to the substitute Lee Howey and the chipped shot just dipped over Crossley's bar. But he must have been feeling even worse when Smith's shot did not bring that last-gasp equaliser in injury time.

Burnley's problems were compounded when the striker Andy Cooke, playing his last game before suspension, got himself booked again 10 minutes from time when he pulled the legs from Millwall substitute Maurice Doyle.