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After an inconsistent start to his managerial career at Sunderland, it seemed that Roy Keane was beginning to get into his rhythm. The team hadn’t lost a game since 4th November of that year and went into this fixture unbeaten in six.
Keane’s signings were settling in well and with strikers such as David Connolly and Daryl Murphy scoring goals on a fairly consistent basis, things were looking up for the new manager.
On this day in 2006, the team rescued an unlikely point at Turf Moor with two goals in the final ten minutes of the game.
In what wouldn’t seem an extraordinary situation, the reality was that this point was bigger than fans may have realised at the time. Hindsight tells us that it was the beginning of a mentality shift at the club where the team were not going to lie down and just take defeat like they had done the previous season.
This game was the beginning of several occasions under Roy Keane’a tenure where the team never believed they were beaten which led to an abundance of moments of sheer elation in the final few minutes when we would score late winners.
Think Carlos Edwards against Burnley, Grant Leadbitter at Southampton or Michael Chopra against Tottenham which are all prime examples. This game was the beginning of this mentality shift.
As for the game itself, the team started slowly and were punished after nine minutes when future Sunderland striker Kyle Lafferty fired home from inside the penalty area.
It didn’t get much better and after 52 minutes, Lafferty added his and Burnley’s second put them firmly in control which left Keane reeling.
It was a disappointing performance. If you start slowly and give away a sloppy goal, you’re going to have a hard day.
You can’t keep giving yourselves a mountain to climb like we do.
With ten minutes to go, the rescue mission started for Sunderland,
First, Grant Leadbitter pulled one back with a half volley from just outside the area to give Sunderland a chance. Then in stoppage time David Connolly scored an almost carbon copy goal to rescue a point for visitors.
Connolly was becoming a vital part of this Sunderland team and in hindsight, I think the contribution he made that season can be overlooked at times.
This sparked madness in the away end as the Irishman sprinted over to celebrate with the travelling fans. Connolly was becoming a vital part of this Sunderland team and in hindsight, I think the contribution he made that season can be overlooked at times.
As fans sprinted to the front of the stand to mob their latest hero, one fiercely excited fan fell out of the stand into the throng of Sunderland players. It was a moment of emotion and togetherness which was the norm in that era at the club - an incredibly enjoyable time to be a fan of us.
Keane was not getting carried away at full time but did express his satisfaction (sort of) in getting the draw.
“To be fair to the players they keep climbing them but we hope to make it a little bit easier.”
Burnley: Coyne, Thomas, McGreal, Duff, McCann, Elliott (Spicer 66), Hyde, Mahon, Jones, Lafferty, Noel-Williams (Branch 90).
Subs Not Used: Sinclair, Garreth O’Connor, Foster.
Goals: Lafferty 9, 52.
Sunderland: Ward, Whitehead, Caldwell, Varga, Collins, Stephen Elliott, Leadbitter, Yorke (Miller 62), Wallace (Kavanagh 62), Murphy (Hysen 74), Connolly.
Subs Not Used: Nyatanga, Fulop.
Booked: Yorke, Caldwell.
Goals: Leadbitter 80, Connolly 90.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).