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Stephen Cummings: Season is starting to feel like a special one
WHEN a football club starts making a habit of breaking its own long-standing records in the way that Sean Dyche’s Burnley have been doing all season, then you can’t help but feel you’re witnessing a very special campaign.
The latest achievement from this exceptional group was to break Burnley’s post-war record for most home league games without defeat. It’s now 19 games ago since the Turf Moor faithful had to endure the pain of an away win.
Of course, strong home form does not come with any promises of end-of-season glory – and it might also be pointed out that six out of 15 visiting teams this term have managed to eke out a draw – but what it does do is substantially increase your chances of success come May.
Saturday’s record-breaking result was achieved against a very ordinary-looking Millwall side who, once Danny Ings had cancelled out Martyn Woolford’s scruffy opener – never really looked likely to give the home crowd too much to get anxious about.
Ings’ failure from the spot with a lame penalty was more than compensated for with two more goals.
It’s difficult to say which was the better of the two – his first where he held off a Millwall defender, pivoted and smashed home, or his second where Kieran Trippier’s long, raking ball was superbly brought down and slotted home.
It’s sufficient to say they were both high-calibre finishes from a high-calibre striker. Ings’ strikes sandwiched an equally impressive effort from Dean Marney, thumping home Scott Arfield’s lay-off to put the Clarets in charge.
It was pleasing to see Marney get some glory. Prior to this season, the perception of the 30 year-old was that of an everyday midfielder; industrious and committed but lacking any qualities to mark him out as a special player.
Yet these days he is rightly viewed as an essential cog in the team. His central midfield partnership with David Jones has been one of the features of this season’s success.
Finally, those with one eye on the news last week will have learned of proposals to trial standing areas in some sections of Championship grounds.
Personally, I’m all for it. And I imagine that those poor water-logged souls in the lower tier of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand who had to endure strong winds and driving rain on Saturday afternoon, would probably not disagree.
Standing in the rain isn’t exactly a picnic, but it certainly beats sitting there motionless and having to endure the worst that the weather can throw at you.