First Half Joy, Second Half Blues!
At long last, the new season kicks off next week with the Clarets travelling to Hillsborough in the openner to face Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 9th August.
Are we now fully prepared, fit and raring to go?
Well yesterday, we completed our hectic pre-season schedule with our ninth friendly of the Summer, and the first one on home soil.
We faced SPL side, Inverness Caledonian Thistle on an immaculate looking pitch and defeated the Scottish team 2-1 making that our sixth consecutive friendly win and seven in total of the nine played with only one lost and one drawn.
Seven victories out of nine would suggest things were going well and certainly on the evidence of the first half yesterday, we looked to be in awesome form. Debutant Chris Eagles impressed in particular scoring his first goal for the Clarets to make it 2-0 at half time after another clever individual goal from Wade Elliott.
Everything was looking good therefore after 45 minutes with the Clarets fans thinking there could be a rout in the second half with the side so much on top and Caley Thistle looking decidingly shell shocked and lacklustre.
Did the gaffer, with one eye on the match next week ask his players to ease off a bit in the second half? Well whatever happened, we just seemed to lose all the flow and midfield attacking flair we had in the first half.
Caley Thistle's persistence led to a defensive blunder by Caldwell and suddenly it was 2-1 with the Scots looking the more dangerous and eager for the equaliser.
It really was now a boring game to watch and the Clarets performance in the second half was enough to believe that we still have got some work to do, especially in terms of strengthening the defence.
Such an anti-climax really, and the usual substitutions at various stages during the second half, just seemed to make the situation worse. All the creative flair we had in the first half building some nice moves from midfield seemed to evaporate and in the end it was a relief when the referee blew for the end of the match.
I hope & pray we can capture and bottle the way we played in the first half and make sure we play like that for 90 minutes in the forthcoming season.
If we can & do, we are going to be a difficult team to beat this season but the fear of course is that we start resorting to the woeful performance of the second half with the defence in particular left wanting.
Clarets fans watching the lads live for the first time in the pre-season friendlies did get to see all the new faces play though at some point in the match.
Five of the new signings were in the starting eleven with just Kevin McDonald on the bench. The Latvian trialist, Aleksandrs Solovjovs was also named on the bench.
Our line up was therefore as follows:
Penny, Alexander, Kalvenes, Duff, Caldwell, Elliott, McCann , Van Der Schaaf, Blake, Paterson, Eagles.
Subs: Jensen, Carlisle, Jordan, Gudjonsson, Jones, McDonald, Mahon, Akinbiyi, Solovjovs Berisha, Kay.
Clarets fans may have been confused with the dug outs at first. It would appear this season the club have swopped round the home and away dugouts. So Coyle hadnt grown about four foot in three months!
The Clarets made a lively start with Blake, Paterson and Eagles looking particularly effective.
It was Paterson on four minutes that nearly openned the scoring but shot wide after some nice link play between Blake and Eagles.
On 9 minutes, Eagles again was in the thick of things laying off a nice ball for McCann to shoot. The ball again though was wide of the target.
Paterson nearly broke the deadlock 2 minutes later but his shot flew across the face of goal and again the ball was just wide.
It was all Clarets at this stage as the bombardment continued. After 15 minutes Blake tried his chances with a free kick but the ball dipped just over the bar.
The impressive and lively, Eagles then took a free kick on 17 minutes but the strong shot on target went straight into the arms of Caley keeper Michael Fraser.
Paterson had a couple more efforts on target as the game settled down a little much to the relief of the bemused and shellshocked visitors.
However, it was only a matter of time before the Clarets took the lead.
Wade Elliott on 42 minutes picked up the ball after some nice build-up play from our own defence involving Van der Schaaf, Alexander, McCann and Blake. Jinxing in and out around a defender he let one go and the thunderbolt sailed into the bottom right hand corner with the keeper hopelessly beaten.
A stunning individual goal!
As the end of the first half approached, the Clarets then doubled their lead in stoppage time. A defensive mistake by Caley was pounced on by Blake and with a sweet pass to Eagles, the debutant midfielder smashed the ball home to make it 2-0 with the half-time whistle blowing seconds later.
The Clarets came out for the second half making just one change with Gudjonsson replacing McCann.
It was a quiet start to the second half and it was Caley who seemed to be getting back in the game. They got a couple of corners in the first few minutes and then the visitors got the ball in the back of the net after 56 minutes.
However the linesman raised his flag for offside and Andrew Barrowman's celebration was short-lived.
Elliott tried a long range shot on 59 minutes and then Blake shot just wide after Eagles put him through in the box.
John Barrowman on 63 minutes though did finally pull one back for Caley thanks to a defensive blunder by Caldwell who let the ball bounce over him with Barrowman breathing down his neck. The striker pushed the defender aside and shot past Penny into the bottom corner of the net.
Caley now seemed to have their heads up and sensed an equaliser while the Clarets began to look more & more lacklustre. A spate of substitutions by Owen Coyle had little effect and the now dull game petered out to finish 2-1 to the Clarets.
A victory but one tinged with disappointment after such a bright and exciting first half.
Man of the Match: Remco Van der Schaaf
Looks a quality defensive midfielder! We have needed someone like Remco for the last few seasons and he could be an outside bet for Player of the Year this season.
Burnley: Penny (Jensen 70), Alexander, Kalvenes (Jordan 54), Duff, Caldwell (Carlisle 69), Elliott (Jones 74), McCann (Gudjonsson 46), Van Der Schaaf (McDonald 69), Blake (Solovjovs 74), Paterson (Akinbiyi 69), Eagles (Mahon 79).
Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, Hastings, McGuire (Duff 64), Munro, Duncan, Cowie, Black, Rooney (McAllister 79), Barrowman, McBain (Imrie 64).
Subs: Proctor, Djebi-Zadi, Wilson, Vigurs, Wood, Esson.
Vital Burnley wish to thank Burnley FC for the use of the photograph