Pitch invasions drive Hughes to attack Turf Moor security screen

Burnley 0 Blackburn Rovers 0
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The Independent Football

"Clarets Say No To Bad Language". If there was an award for football's most futile advertisement, it was the one displayed at Turf Moor the day Burnley played Blackburn Rovers. It is usually ignored on most match-days and for this fixture swearing was the least of their worries on a day when spite from the stands overflowed menacingly on to the pitch.

If those who believe Burnley versus Blackburn produces a unique kind of poison required proof, it arrived when a fan with nothing more than a T-shirt and an intense dislike of anything in blue-and-white to sustain him against the February chill, ran on to the pitch determined to take a swing at Robbie Savage. He did not quite succeed, although he found himself squaring up to Steven Reid and was eventually dragged off by half a dozen police officers. He was the third intruder on to the pitch and by far the most dangerous.

In these temperatures the bald, rather ungainly, streaker threatened nobody and appeared grateful to be hustled into a pair of blue underpants. A man who came on waving the St George's banner did so during the interval when the only people on the pitch were a couple of blokes dressed as bumble bees kicking a ball to each other in the name of half-time entertainment.

With the sound of a police helicopter clattering overhead, the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, attacked the quality of the security Turf Moor had provided for the bitterest tie the FA Cup is likely to stage this season.

"For three people to encroach on the pitch during a match is poor," he said. "Those stewards and police should have been more aware of what was going on because it should not have been up to my players to have sorted out the situation. The man came on the pitch wanting a fight and, God forbid, he could have been carrying a knife."

As someone who used to run Old Trafford cricket ground before coming to Turf Moor, the Burnley chief executive, Dave Edmundson, replied that experience had taught him that nothing could stop someone absolutely determined to come on to the pitch in the name of either taking off their clothe or violence. The Burnley midfielder, Jean-Louis Valois, also had a coin thrown at him as he went to take a corner in front of those who had travelled east on the M65 past a banner declaring: "Welcome to Hell".

After all the build-up, some of the football, especially in the first half, was a vision of purgatory. "I don't know whether it was even a decent game because you get wrapped up in it all," the Burnley manager, Steve Cotterill, was honest enough to remark afterwards. "I am not saying we went out to avoid losing but it was important not to get beaten on our own patch."

The nearest Burnley came to losing was when Morten Gamst Pedersen twice saw free-kicks turned aside by Brian Jensen and then had a point-blank header blocked by Lee Roche's body, although Hughes felt the full-back - the third Cotterill employed in the tie - used his arm.

In a perverse kind of way, the result suited both sides. Unlike Aston Villa and Liverpool, Hughes' side were not humbled here and Blackburn's supporters would point out that the last time Burnley came to Ewood Park, they were destroyed 5-0.

The replay a week tomorrow will, however, add to Burnley's already considerable income from cup games this season, while they both avoided defeat and retained their self-respect. Too many times when faced with their bigger, now nouveau-riche neighbours, Burnley have failed to do either.

Burnley (4-5-1): Jensen; Sinclair (Oster, h-t), Cahill, McGreal (Roche, 77), Camara; Duff, Hyde, Whittingham, Grant (Branch, 87), Valois; Moore. Substitutes not used: Coyne (gk), Pilkington.

Blackburn Rovers (3-1-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Nelsen; Tugay (Reid, 64); Emerton, Savage, Pedersen, Johansson; Gallagher (Thompson, 83), Dickov (Johnson, 73). Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Mokoena.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Burnley Camara, Hyde. Blackburn Todd, Savage, Pedersen.

Man of the match: Pedersen.

Attendance: 21,468.

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