Fan’s View 2020/21 – No.51 – Burton at home

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, May 9th, 2021  

SEASON 2020/21 No.51: BURTON AT HOME

Pre-match

As the 46th league game of the season approaches the pressure at some clubs will get more and more intense. The final resting positions in the table will depend on how this is handled. If Pompey buckle and we don’t we’ll definately make the play-offs.

There’s always this talk of “plenty of twists and turns” but realistically that isn’t always so. If Portsmouth get an early lead against Accrington, build on it and don’t concede it could be game over before we’ve had time to get even a little bit excited.

The bookies usually give a good indication of the likely outcome, although thankfully not always. We’re 4/6 to beat Burton and 14/1 to win the play-offs. Pompey are shorter at 8/15 to win against Accrington and are just 7/2 to triumph at Wembley. Obviously Sunderland, Blackpool and Lincoln who have already booked a top six berth are shorter.

If it is very much a long shot for us then Charlton are taking aim from a different planet. They’re on the same points as us but with a goal difference that is inferior by four. They’re home to Champions Hull. Those bookmaker chaps have the Addicks at 40/1 to get promoted.

Clearly sensible money goes on the team from the south coast to hold on to that sixth spot but football is often not predictable. If both we and Portsmouth lose and Charlton draw they make the play-offs and a point would be good enough for us if Pompey lost and Charlton drew.

It’s important to dream.

OXFORD UNITED 4 BURTON ALBION 0

No football dreams formed over-night. There was a dream though that I have turned into a football thing. My wife and I were in a fairly sparse room and I looked up into the top left hand corner and saw a bee. It was huge. The size of a fist and very hairy. Quite unkempt and looking rather like Gnasher from the Beano. It then started slowly flying towards us. I took that to mean we’d be playing Brentford next season. How mad is that?

Anyway who needs dreams when reality produces stuff like this?

Brandon Barker not fit enough to start. James Henry not having had much sleep as his wife produced child number three late on Saturday night. Elliott Moore having back spasms. None of that information was of the positive variety but teams that can overcome adversity will succeed.

The match started with a high tempo and most of the first five minutes was played in and around our left back position with us rarely getting into their half. Credit to Burton who had come to try and win the game. They’re no soft touch and as well as trying to play a bit on the ground threw in lots of high balls too which I hadn’t realised was a Hasselbaink tactic. Throw after throw were slung into our penalty area and that continued for the entire game. In the ninth minute we had our first proper attack and that brought goal number one. It was a typical passing move that the Yellows produce when they’re at their best. It ended with Olamide Shodipo getting his head on a well delivered Henry cross.

At the time I noticed a tussle between the Taylors Matty and Terry in the build-up. At the time I hadn’t seen the beginning of the incident but the bit I did see led me to think our man might be penalised as theirs went to ground. JFH was not impressed and let his feeling be known but having seen it again, albeit not in slow motion, it looks like both players are holding but we’re unlikely to know who started it. Matty decided I’m not having this and then slung Terry, who didn’t bust a gut to get back onto his feet and back into the action, to the deck.  We’ve had plenty of this type of thing go against us so I’ll move on with a smile.

An Oxford lead ticked box number one. With Portsmouth v Accy goal-less box number two also had a tick in it. A bloody long way to go though. Enjoy it while we can I thought as it’s only a matter of time before we hear “and over to Fratton Park” where it’s “the home side have scored”.

From here on in we looked the business. Confident, solid and playing with the intent of putting more goals in the bank thus ensuring there could be no regrets on the day at our end. Also Burton now started to collect yellow cards. The first for Michael Mancienne for a foul on Josh Ruffels a minute after we scored.

A lot of action was being crammed into a short space of time. Absolutely no sitting back on the lead. A good cross was played in but no one quite got on the end of it, Rob Atkinson had one of his runs but the shot he got away wasn’t of the same quality, the energetic Mark Sykes broke away, Henry had a shot and then won a free-kick with the game still only about 20 minutes old.

In less than ten minutes the ticks in each of the boxes grew larger. The news of a goal arrived from down south. It was thrashed home in emphatic style by Adam Phillips. He’s a Burnley player out on loan but not at Portsmouth.

As well as short and intricate we can play long too. Cameron Brannagan, a man who so wants to win, from his own half picked out Taylor who did his usual running between centre-halves and controlling with the outside of his right boot. From nothing in a split second we were threatening with great possibilities. Taylor fed Elliot Lee who fed Shodipo. The resulting attempt was blocked and shot skywards. On its return to earth Mancienne got right underneath it, probably a little too much so and he sent the ball on its way behind him towards the six yard box where predatory Taylor doesn’t turn down such gifts. His head and neck muscles did the necessary.

Local lads celebrating the second goal. Photo – Steve Daniels

Lee side footed wide but as a reminder that this wasn’t done and dusted Jack Stevens was required to make two brave close range saves although a hand ball decision going our way made the second one redundant.

As the half moved towards its conclusion the game got scrappier, we didn’t look quite as assured and Taylor M was getting fouled a lot but referee Thomas Bramall thought he was fair game.

As they had done in the first half, the visitors began part two quite strongly but, as before, no way did we here, or at any time during the game for that matter, look like we were wobbling and likely to concede. That’s down to a thoroughly professional display from all starters and substitutes who represented the club on the day.  Not only could we deal with their throws but also the corners they got over and there were nine of them. Strangely we only won two but that couldn’t be of less relevance.

Taylor T was booked for a foul just outside the D. With no-one in a grey shirt opting to go for a lie down behind the defensive wall Lee, the free-kick taker, got the ball under as four men obligingly took a little bunny hop of just the right height. Keeper Dillon Barnes didn’t cover himself in glory as the ball went in via him and a post.

Three goals to the good all bagged up here surely. Now I thought we’re bound to hear “and Portsmouth have equalised” because life isn’t supposed to be this kind and once they get one they’ll get more. Reports said they were now really going for it.

The bad news when it came wasn’t from the game that would decide whether our season is to be extended or not but on the injury front. Sam Long’s hamstring went in the 64th minute and probably rules him out for the last steps of this marathon. Henry also went down with about 20 minutes left and soon after also had to be replaced.

Damn, bodies are falling apart.

Not long after Sam and Shodipo had gone off for Jamie Hanson and Dan Agyei Burton hit the bar with a cross but that was the closest they came.

Once more it got a bit disjointed but with us ending the game having used all five subs it’s hardly surprising that the flow lost its smoothness. That said every new arrival onto the field of play did their jobs absolutely sensibly.

In addition to how Accrington were holding out my concern at this stage was about not picking up further injuries as Burton were jumping into challenges but give them their due in that they still wanted to score a goal.

We still did too. Lee made a hash of it after a Ruffels run, who in turn missed after getting a pass from Agyei.

In added time we did add to the three and no doubt had those who give a toss – and I’m hoping there’s not many of them – moaning that they’d lost out on the Picks as 3 goals is the go to score.

The assist came from Jack Stevens. A long clearance from the ground was allowed to bounce once by Sam Winnall who hit sweetly from distance as it dropped. What a goal. What a way to end the day. And what a day.

Except there was still that other game. My son had been following it on his phone. He kept reporting how far in they were and it seemed that how far they were behind us was being over stated by the Rad Ox boys. Still I refused to count any chickens.

After our final whistle went he said I’m going to put the Pompey game on Sky. I decided I couldn’t watch but then changed my mind when I saw they were in the last minute of added time. The chickens were well and truly being tallied.

I’ve subsequently seen a few clips of the other game and Toby Savin in the Stanley goal certainly lived up to his surname. What a fine young man. There’ll be plenty of Oxfordshire folk queuing up to buy him a pint should they get the chance.

We’ve done some very hard stuff to get to here. Some fans had completely written our chance off and after some displays it was easy to conclude that “we’re not good enough”. Well we are good enough to be in the play-offs because we’ve finished 6th and we’ve done that by getting more points than 17 clubs in our league and having a better goal difference than Charlton.

Yes, very hard so far. But probably even harder for the final push.

Huge congratulations to Karl, the team and all the back room staff for getting us here.

We’ve now got just over a week to wait before we go through the emotions, whatever they may turn out to be, once more.

But for now, relax. (If that’s possible).

Oh, we’re now 11/4 to win the play-offs as are Blackpool. Favourites are Sunderland at 17/10 with Lincoln just the outsiders at 4/1.

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