Carling Cup hopes dashed
BURNLEY'S chances of reaching the Carling Cup Final for the first time in their long and proud history look to have been dashed after an amazing second half fight-back from Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
The Clarets have reached the Semi-Finals on four occasions in the past but have failed to make the next step, and it was looking positive for Owen Coyle's men heading into half-time, but it was certainly a game of two halves as Spurs stormed four goals in just 25 second half minutes, cancelling out Martin Paterson's opener.
Christian Kalvenes was dropped to the bench for the game after taking his place in the starting line up in the F.A. Cup Third Round against Queens Park Rangers, to be replaced at left back by Stephen Jordan, who returned from a one match suspension. Midfielders Chris McCann and Kevin McDonald both passed late fitness tests, but only McCann made the starting eleven, with the 19-year-old Scottish Under 21s International McDonald taking his place amongst the substitutes.
Owen Coyle's Clarets started fantastically well, piling on the pressure to Harry Redknapp's Tottenham, who of course are the holders of the Carling Cup, beating Chelsea at Wembley last season. Chris Eagles looked a constant first half threat and it took just three minutes for the former Manchester United youngster to combine superbly with Wade Elliott, who played Eagles through, only to see his shot fire just wide of Heurelho Gomes' far post.
Hero of the cup Brian Jensen saw his first piece of action on 13 minutes when former Blackburn Rovers winger David Bentley, who recieved a tasty reception from the 3,800 Clarets faithful, hit a sweet shot, but the Beast was always equal to it and held on comfortably.
Then came the moment that the fantastic away following had been waiting for. Chris McCann and Robbie Blake linked up well in the centre of midfield before knocking the ball out wide for the pacey Eagles to latch onto it, before skipping between two Spurs defenders, to knock the ball into the middle of the area where Paterson was waiting to pounce.
And it wasn't long before Burnley's 54% of possession almost doubled the Lancastrians' lead, with Eagles again outstanding on the right hand side of midfield, swinging an inch perfect ball into the middle where 'Bad Beat Bob' Blake awaited after losing his man, but his glancing header flashed narrowly wide of Gomes' far post, an effort that more than deserved a goal.
Tottenham then had their first real chance of the game with Roman Pavlyuchenko having a point blank effort fantastically stopped with a world class save from Jensen who instinctively stuck out an arm to keep the Clarets ahead following Jonathan Woodgate's knock down into the middle.
Burnley's rhythm was disrupted though with Icelandic midfielder Joey Gudjonsson pulling up holding his left leg on a night where pitch temperatures dropped as low as -2°C. On came the Arsenal goal hero Kevin McDonald who slotted straight in alongside McCann in the middle. But moments later and McCann was down recieving treatment on his knee, the injury that kept him out of the weekend's goalless draw with QPR, but he was given the all clear to continue.
The Clarets ended the half strongly as the 31,377 strong crowd at White Hart Lane booed their side from the field of play, with Coyle's men looking comfortable. But what was to come wasn't expected by anyone in the ground, including Spurs manager Redknapp who admitted the game didn't reflect the scoreline come the end.
But 'Arry must have said something inspirational to his side, as they levelled the game after just 75 seconds of the second half, with Michael Dawson beating Clarke Carlisle in the air to nod the ball past Jensen in the Clarets goals in what was only the second goal Burnley had conceded in the whole competition, Didier Drogba getting the other.
Burnley heads dropped after the instant set back and it set Tottenham up perfectly as they once again had the fans on their side, after they had been virtually silenced by the Clarets through the first period. And it wasn't long before half time substitute Jamie O'Hara put the North Londoners ahead, smashing the ball past Danish stopper Brian Jensen after Pavlyuchenko's effort deflected through a crowded penalty area.
Blake almost got his moment in the limelight, but his famous red underpants didn't get a chance to be flashed infront of the cameras as his chip again flashed agonisingly over Gomes' crossbar with the Brazilian beaten all ends up. Coyle's men carried on rallying and again almost pulled themselves back into the game with a massive scramble in the Spurs 18-yard box, but neither Martin Paterson or Blake could capitalise and the danger was cleared.
The threat of Pavlyuchenko was always clear and he extended the home side's lead in the 65th minute, brushing Carlisle off the ball with ease to fire the ball past a dispairing Jensen. The Clarets were crushed. Every single player looked drained after giving their all to the cause, and the spirit dropped as it seemed like the players had given up hope of pulling the game back. Once again Tottenham took full advantage of the Clarets' feeling sorry for themselves and just two minute later made it four.
O'Hara whipped in a teasing ball only for Michael Duff to nod the ball past his own keeper and into the net to leave Tottenham with one foot in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley in May.
Strikers Jay Rodriguez and Ade Akinbiyi were introduced late in the game, but neither could come up with a second for the Clarets who head back to Turf Moor in two weeks time chasing a three goal deficit. Rodriguez though was outstanding when he came into the game on 75minutes, chasing everything, pressuring the defenders and winning absolutely everything in the air. That is what Burnley fans were calling for and for most, the introduction came too late, as his presence could have helped spur Burnley onto a fightback.
Next Burnley face Swansea City at Turf Moor, the game will be shown live on Sky Sports One, with a kick off time of 5:20pm on Saturday 10th January. And of course we will have a full match report and reaction on TodmordenNews.co.uk and Burnley Vital Football!
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Bale, Lennon, Modric, Zokora, Bentley (O'Hara 46), Pavlyuchenko, Campbell.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Gunter, Giovani, Taarabt, Boateng, Rocha.
Goals: Dawson 47, O'Hara 52, Pavlyuchenko 65, Duff 68 og.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan, Gudjonsson (McDonald 30), Eagles, Paterson (Akinbiyi 86), Elliott, Blake (Rodriguez 75), McCann.
Subs Not Used: Penny, Kalvenes, Mahon, MacDonald.
Goals: Paterson 15.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).