When nine are tougher than 11

IF it seemed hard work to come away with the points with the opposition down to nine men after quarter of an hour at Brighton, it’s not suprising.

Nine men are not always the easiest of teams to beat, particularly if they are organised, defend to the hilt, double the commitment while leaving out the stuff that got them down to nine players in the first place and hit you, sometimes luckily, on the break.

Of the two games that immediately come to my mind in similar 11 v 9 situations, one was lost and the other was a win, an important one, and even that took some work.

Back in the late 70s, Burnley legend Jimmy Adamson, whose acrimonious departure from the club at chairman Bob Lord’s behest, returned with his Sunderland team.

The rancour surrounding Jimmy’s departure didn’t just stop with Jimmy, and he eventually took several of his charges to Sunderland, including Colin Waldron, Doug Collins and Mick Docherty.

I seem to recall Mick Doc was one of those dismissed and the atmosphere the match was played in was poisonous.

Sunderland certainly played like men possessed and even “minus two” they took the points.

It was also hard work in the 1994 play-off final against Stockport at Wermbley, but on that occasion, in the second half, Burnley used the expansive pitch to eventually pass their opponents to death as Gary Parkinson scored the winner. But there were some sticky moments.

I am mainly pleased Eddie Howe’s team chalked up another away victory.

What’s worrying me more is that wins are harder to come by at home - the players may be feeling the heat from the crowd?

Because if home form matched the away form (with a modicum of luck thrown in) it would be play-off form.

There is much work to be done before that.

But roll on Boxing Day anyway...