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On This Day

23 March 2016

23 March 1974
Leeds United 1-4 Burnley

When Leeds were claiming their first two League titles in the late sixties and early seventies, the Clarets seemed to have the knack of taking them down a peg or two in some style, albeit temporarily.

In 1968-69 Leeds lost just twice all season, one defeat being an absolute hammering at Turf Moor, 5-1 in October 1968.

That was “when the Burnley Babes ruled English soccer” according to Edward Lee in “Burnley – a Complete Record”, and anyone who saw that humiliation of the Champions-elect would not argue.

Then there was this demolition job at Elland Road 42 years ago today. On their way to this, their second title success, Leeds actually lost four times, but only once at home, again a bloody nose inflicted by our heroes.

It has to be said that, on the day, absolutely nothing went right for the league leaders, just a week after they had lost for the first time all season, 1-0 at Liverpool.

On 18 minutes the Clarets went in front when the unmarked Paul Fletcher was on the end of a Doug Collins free-kick.

He headed it out to Frank Casper, who’s instant cross went straight back to Fletcher who pushed the ball into the net.

Leeds regrouped and threatened to overwhelm the visitors but found goalkeeper Alan Stevenson in inspired form. In addition to numerous orthodox saves he had some luck when a Peter Lorimer special hit his legs as he went the wrong way.

Five minutes from half time the pressure paid off when Alan Clarke equalised and the home crowd relaxed, ready for the expected onslaught.

It didn’t happen. Instead within a minute Burnley went ahead again, once more courtesy of Paul Fletcher, with what has become accepted as Burnley’s “Goal of the Decade”.

Peter Noble sent a high looping ball into the heart of the United defence and Geoff Nulty climbed highest to beat Gordon McQueen in the air.

It dropped perfectly for Fletcher who launched himself into an acrobatic overhead kick, as Norman Hunter slid in to challenge.

The strike was perfect and the ball flew past keeper Harvey, equally as helpless as the stunned Leeds crowd, into the net.

Around the hour mark Burnley went further ahead when Nulty robbed Paul Madeley. An intricate move involving Martin Dobson and Frank Casper eventually ended with Doug Collins, who saw the keeper slightly off his line and looped the ball over his head, off a post, and into the net.

Seven minutes later the scoring was complete when another Collins free-kick was headed into the mix by Colin Waldron to Nulty who stooped to head in number four.

Collins was substituted by Billy Ingham but immediately afterwards Casper was the victim of an ugly tackle by Hunter and had to be carried off.

Only one sub was available in those days so the Clarets were a man short for the rest of the game. It didn’t seem to affect them at all and Leighton James was within a whisker of scoring number five late on.

This was an excellent performance by the Clarets but a poor display on all levels by the Champions-elect.

Their frustration manifested itself in some wild tackles, none worse than Hunter’s assault on Casper.

Although he played in Burnley’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Newcastle United the following week it was his last game for 18 months and his career faltered until his retirement.
Clarets fans have long memories and events that day contributed to long-standing animosity whenever Burnley and Leeds meet.

Burnley team (235):
Alan Stevenson, Peter Noble, Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Jim Thomson,
Geoff Nulty, Frank Casper, Paul Fletcher, Doug Collins (Billy Ingham), Leighton James.

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