The View from 1882
Hopkirk and Randall (Benched)
Burnley 2-0 Coventry City
Burnley beat Coventry 2-0 on a cold, windy Tuesday evening at Turf Moor in Chris Coleman`s first away game as Coventry manager with goals from Chris McCann and a one time transfer target for Coventry Steven Caldwell. The match was on the whole dull and lifeless - an uninspiring affair, but nevertheless it sets us back on the trail of the top 6. For all the fact-fans out there this was our first double of the season.
For once it is our opponents on the receiving end of a horrendous refereeing decision as our first goal was allowed to stand despite a blatant handball. It wasn`t obvious from my view at the game, perhaps I was daydreaming like the referee, but on the highlights it is obvious and it is something the referee should have spotted. These decisions do not even themselves out over the course of a season like some would claim. Earlier this season Coventry`s fellow relegation candidates Preston came to Turf Moor and were handed all 3 points, by a thoroughly disgraceful refereeing performance from Lee Mason which was not fit to grace junior football. This gave Preston 3 points which they didn`t deserve. If the handball had been given against Lafferty Coventry might have taken something. This gives Preston a possible 6 point cheated advantage over Coventry.
Curiously this season`s Preston away tickets bear the inscription "Pay Ref". We can but hope this is not an omen of what is to come, but enough about Lee Mason and Preston and on to more about Burnley and Coventry.
The first action of the match came on 10 minutes when Julian Gray shot over the bar.
There was precious little else that happened to comment on in the opening 20 minutes until we went into a 1-0 lead following a right footed Wade Elliott corner which was headed towards goal, palmed down by Lafferty and after a brief scramble, smashed home by McCann. There was an amusing kung-fu attempt to score from Carlisle moments before McCann scored.
Approaching the half hour mark Coventry managed to get the ball in our net from a Julian Gray, but were rightly given offside.
The only other action to report in the first half came briefly before half time when Jensen had to collect a Coventry through ball with Gray on the prowl.
A ridiculous dive from I think Kevin Thornton during the second half in an attempt to get a penalty saw him roundly booed whenever he got the ball. If my memory serves me correctly he was prone to throwing himself around last season when we encountered Coventry at Turf Moor in the final game of the season.
Mifsud shot over the crossbar shortly after the second half had begun.
In the 58th minute the man of the match arrived with Mark Randall replacing Joey Gudjonsson. Only minutes later he came close to opening his Burnley account when a 30 yard effort went narrowly over the bar. He certainly looks to have goals in him and could prove crucial to our Play-Off push. His passing throughout his short spell on the pitch was a joy to watch continually picking out players in good attacking positions.
On 71 minutes Randall again was so near to securing the 3 points. He controlled the ball on the edge over the area and looped a delicious ball toward the top corner only to miss by one of the smallest of margins. He was not to get a goal on the night, but if he gets picked and performs like this on Saturday we could well be celebrating a Mark Randall strike.
Elliott whipped the ball along the face of goal with just under 15 minutes to go Lafferty tried to stretch out to tap the ball in but failed to do so. That was Kyle Lafferty`s last contribution of the night as Robbie Blake also immediately came off the bench to replace him.
With 5 minutes left a Robbie Blake header resulted in a corner which he himself crossed in right footed to be met by a towering header from Captain Caldwell to wrap up all 3 points. Marshall in the Coventry goal got a hand to it, but could do nothing to stop it.
I think Coventry whilst not being anything special over the course of our two recent matches will avoid the drop this season, but they will have work to do in the summer otherwise they will be serious contenders for the drop next season.
We now look forward to a home match with Watford on Saturday where a win would see us in with a good chance of climbing into the top 6, but we`ve been in a similar position so many times this season and failed to capitalise. Here`s hoping for a reverse of what happened in the 2001/2002 season where we dropped out at the very end maybe this time we can get in towards the end of the season.
Man of the Match: Mark Randall
Despite only being on the pitch for just over half an hour Randall was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch. His passing was excellent he seemed willing to have a shot and came close to scoring. Surely he must start on Saturday?
Many thanks to EET for continuing his match reports