Phil Bird's eye on Turf Moor
A Night to Remember:
On the evidence of Friday night’s win at Old Trafford, the future is bright!
This was a sensational, well deserved victory against one of the hot favourites to win the FA Youth Cup.
That 4-3 extra time win by our youth side against Manchester United must go down as one of the biggest shocks in the recent history of the tournament.
To put things in perspective, Paul McGuiness’ side are top of their academy league, and such is their strength in depth, they had a friendly against Bury the very next day and won that 7-0!
We have beaten United twice before in the competition - on our way to winning it in 1968 and en route to the semi-final three years later. The Red Devils have dominated the cup winning it ten times and appearing in 14 finals.
No-one should under estimate what an achievement it was to win at Old Trafford.
Terry Pashley got his tactics spot on. His 4-1-4-1 formation with Nathan Lowe in front of the back four and Jason Gilchrist as a lone striker frustrated United.
Time and time again we caught them on the break. Sensibly he kept a substitution back for extra time and Bradley Jackson played a massive part in Gilchrist’s delightful winner.
Jackson’s cross was beyond belief.
Just 15 years old, imagine going into school on Monday and telling your schoolmates you set up the winner at Old Trafford. Priceless!
It’s worth remembering we only fielded three second year scholars. Luke Conlan, skipper Cameron Howieson and Gilchrist were immense and really impressed up against United’s talented youngsters.
We need to tie Gilchrist down to a professional deal.
He looks a natural goalscorer with a poacher’s instinct.
Not many strikers score hat-tricks at Old Trafford at any level. It’s a rare event! Not sure about youth or reserve teams but Ronaldo (Real Madrid 2003), Dennis Bailey (QPR 1992), Kevin Mabbutt (Bristol City 1978), Martin Peters (Tottenham 1972) and Ron Davies (Southampton 1969) are some that come to mind.
Another Burnley player did it in the 1962-63 season. John Connelly grabbed a hat-trick in a sensational 5-2 win creating such an impression that Matt Busby later signed him for United!
Well done Sir Alex Ferguson. He stayed for the full 120 minutes and was full of praise for Burnley after the game.
Football people want to win every game at every level but sometimes it’s how defeat is taken that impresses most.
It was a surprise to see Jack Errington on the bench too. He looked fantastic. It's great to see him fit and well after his heart operation.
We are already looking forward to seeing him in action next season.
Ready for the Hornets:
If we had taken our first half chances in the last two games against Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest we would be going into Saturday’s tricky home fixture against Watford very close to a play-off spot.
Our three defeats under Sean Dyche have all had controversial elements.
Admittedly with the aid of replays, goals from Daryl Murphy (Ipswich) and Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest) looked like fouls and we all know Kieran Trippier’s dismissal v Charlton looked incredibly harsh.
However, in the two away games maybe we didn’t react well to those turning points and that is something to work on.
The Gaffer was poorly treated at Vicarage Road.
With one of the lowest budgets in the division, he got Watford to mid-table respectability. Since a summer takeover this is a vastly different side.
I make it 16 different nationalities in the Hornets squad, with a massive 14 players on loan with nine from one club - Udinese.
There may be one or two unfamiliar names but they’ve hit form in some style as wins at Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton, Palace and Huddersfield will testify.
Expect goals too!
Gianfranco Zola’s side have seen 42 in their ten away games to date and the last eight Turf Moor fixtures between these sides have had at least four goals in them.
West Ham feature in the latest series of the American award winning cartoon The Simpsons. Bart and Lisa discover a West Ham banner in the bedroom of neighbour T Rex.
The success of Sam Allardyce’s side hasn’t gone unnoticed across the Atlantic.
However, the famous castle crest is there but for some reason the traditional claret and blue is missing.
Instead the Hammers colours are bizarrely shown as green and gold! Perhaps it’s all part of the re-branding process ahead of a move to the Olympic Stadium?