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BURNLEY 1 - SAINTS 1
11:43am Thursday 20th July 2006 in 05-06 Season
SAINTS first game at Turf Moor in 28 years ended with the same result as the last - a draw.
That fixture on this aging ground in 1978 carried the scoreline 3-3 and the Match of the Day featured game was of a Saints side on the up achieving promotion to the top flight.
Generations of footballers have passed though both clubs' ranks in the 28 years since and so like long lost aquaintances their call to meet at Turf Moor last night involved a Saints side on the slide.
If the walls of this charcterter-drunk stadium could talk - and no doubt they can - they would have greeted Saints enthusiastically, grabbing their hand firmly and shaking it keen to know about the other's successes achieved since they last met here.
If they were still nattering when Saints left last night the quote uttered under the breath could only be written as "hhhmmm!".
They may have been wondering what all the fuss was about? Sadly, at the moment, they would be correct.
On a cold, wet, windy and frankly grim Lancashire night, perhaps the fact that game survived three pitch inspections before being given the go-ahead told a story that it was never going to be a goal feast.
The fact that two had been registered inside ten minutes gave the hearty 10,636 souls who braved the fixture false hope of what may lay ahead.
The fact that the next 80 minutes remained goalless told a far more accurate story, namely that of a distinct lack of quality.
For Saints' part there was no lack of effort and they needed to show heart after being out-muscled in the 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United last weekend.
The quality though is still AWOL and no doubt this summer scouting parties will be dispatched in order to rectify that problem.
Until then, this season is all about survival and not being sucked into another relegation scrap in successive seasons.
Last night George Burley's injury depeleted side showed just the sort of industriousness that will probably keep them clear of danger.
A point on the road on a perishing night speaks of a creditable performance, but little else.
Afterwards Burley was putting a brave face on the circumstances his side find themsleves in - just two wins in his 17 games in charge.
"Overall I'm pleased with the performance and the attitude but one (point) is better than nothing," said Burley.
"We did (need a moral booster) after Saturday when we put on a poor perfromance. They worked hard for each other and showed a lot of commitment. They were out fought on Saturday against Sheffield United and that wasn't the case tonight."
Anyone arriving late for kick-off would have been sold short.
Despite the less than attractive prospect of Burnley away on a miserable Tuesday night it was Saints who started the brighter.
The first goal was timed at 38 seconds as Richard Chaplow's searching ball found Alexander Ostlund on the right who played a tricky ball across the penalty box.
It seemed to bobble hitting Grzegorz Rasiak on the way before being turned home by Burnley's on-loan Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley.
Saints fans had brief hope that this might just be a first victory in five attempts but those hoped were extinguished eight minutes later.
Putting his Sunderland woes behind him, on-loan Andy Gray grabbed his second goal in as many starts for Burnley as he found himself through on goal when Darren Kenton slipped on a pudding of a pitch.
In his first start for Saints goal keeper Kevin Miller was slow to come off his line and when he did Gray pushed the ball wide round him riding the challenge and not going down.
His shot from an acute angle into an empty net was probably going in - a sliding Claus Lundekvam erradicated any doubt helping it into the back of the net.
The rest of the first half was played out in a version of aerial tennis as both sides struggled to create chances.
Keen to impress on his home town return, Richard Chaplow was industrious and should have got a shot away when he found himself in space in the penalty box. Meanwhile his counterpart, Southampton-born Burnley star Wade Elliott was left on the bench.
Jim Brennan volleyed wide as the first half petered out despite Saints enjoying much of the territory.
Burnley came out after the break looking to push forward and John Harley's long-range effort was just over the cross bar while Chris McCann fired wide.
Brennan found the side netting when he should have done better after Madsen's searching ball across goal while on-loan Wigan midfielder Alan Mahon rattled Saints crossbar with a spectacular 30 yard effort.
As burnley moved up a gear Miller came to Saints' rescue stopping McCann's shot with his legs as he fell the wrong way and then in the 81st minuye pulling off a qaulity stop from Harley's volley.
Animated George Burley was warming up the Lancashire night with his bellowed instructions. But vocals drifted up into the night sky as Saints could only hold on for a draw.
Saints lack a creative force. This time last year they would have expected to dispatch this Burnley team even on the road. Survival and the summer cannot come quick enough.