9th March 1999
The 1998/99 season saw Manchester City once again in the midst of a promotion battle, however this time it was to get out of English football’s third tier, known at the time as League Two. The blues had been relegated from League One the previous season and the fans had expected City to be promoted at the first attempt. Sadly for blues fans, the season wasn’t planning out how they had planned and by the time they visited Burnley, the club was sixth in the league, nineteen points behind runaway leaders Fulham.
While the blues had only lost six games all season, the problem for City was they had drawn too many games. In fact, before the match, City had drawn more matches than they had won which was a key barrier in the club’s attempt to gain automatic promotion, so the play-offs looked a more likely prospect.
City went into the match on the back of a dismal and uninspiring 0-0 home draw with Northampton, while Burnley were smarting from a 5-0 home thrashing by Gillingham and looked to secure three points to keep them away from the relegation zone, while the blues needed the points to stave off the challenge for a play-off spot by seventh placed Chesterfield.
The home start started well enough and there was no indication in the opening fifteen minutes of the carnage that City would unleash on the Turf Moor pitch, with Burnley snapping at the heels of the City team trying to rush the blues and force them into errors, clearly trying to learn from the mistakes they had made against Gillingham. But it was clear that a City goal would allow the home head to drop, and it duly happened the moment Kevin Horlock gave City the lead, firing across the keeper on 16 minutes.
The blues hadn’t lost in the league since a 2-1 defeat at York in December and once in front, the never looked like losing the lead or the match. Gareth Taylor almost made it 2-0 shortly after Horlock’s opener, but his diving header was saved brilliantly by keeper Critchlow. Nicky Weaver then proved his worth with a good save from Graham Branch in a rare Burnley attack, and City heeded the warning.
In the 41st minute, Terry Cooke’s corner was thumped home by Andy Morrison to put the blues two clear going into the break. It wasn’t as impressive as Gillingham a few days earlier, who were 4-0 up at half-time, but the blues needn’t have worried – the goals would come.
In a special treat from Burnley, the half-time interval was met by the home side blaring out an Oasis track, much to the delight of the travelling faithful and the derision of the home side, who were now beginning to turn on their side and manager Stan Ternant.
And that derision was compounded five minutes into he second half when Shaun Goater was left unmarked to hammer home his first and City’s third. Nine minutes later, the Bermudan made it 4-0, slotting the ball home following Taylor’s unselfish pass, then hitting his hat-trick six minutes later as the Burnley defence allowed Cooke all the time in the world to find Goater.
At 5-0, the blues had matched Gillingham’s weekend scoreline, but with 25 minutes remaining, the blues had plenty of time remaining to inflict further damage on the home side and make up some more goal difference. The blues poured forward in search of more goals, but the home side defended desperately to keep the score down.
Finally, substitute Danny Allsop was able to make it 6-0 on 82 minutes and could have made it 7-0 before the end, but somehow missed the target completely when it was easier to score.
The result sent a warning to Gillingham and the rest of the top half that City were not going to lie down and accept another season in the third tier.
Final Score: Burnley 0-6 Manchester City
City: Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Morrison, Wiekens, Horlock, Brown, Bishop, Taylor, Goater, Cooke
Subs: Tiatto (unused), Vaughan (65), Allsopp (69)