Date:Sunday July 12 2009
The Clarets, preparing for their first campaign in the Premier League had their pre-season party spoilt by Bradford City yesterday in the first of their nine friendlies
The Bantams came back from 1-0 down to beat the Clarets 2-1 at Valley Parade with all the goals being scored in the first half but should we read anything into this result? Is it a bad omen or does it not matter at all?
A very impressive 2020 fans travelled the short distance over the Pennines to see the Clarets in action for the first time since that glorious day at Wembley on May 25th this year and it would be interesting to know how many came back embarrassed after a defeat to a League 2 side and how many simply shrugged it off with no worries whatsoever. Although I didn`t go to this match I would be firmly in the second camp. Let`s look at the facts.
This was a cobweb remover and a chance for Owen Coyle to experiment in his team selection. Two players did not feature after picking up minor knocks in training, Chris McCann and Chris Eagles arguably key players in the team therefore sat this game out.
There were no surprises in his team selection in the sense that no triallists were on display plus he didn`t give the opportunity for any of our five young new professionals to have a kick-about in the first team. Other than that though he played effectively two teams, one in each half and gave 20 professionals the chance to play including the three new signings, Steven Fletcher, David Edgar and Tyrone Mears. By the start of the second half we had a completely new team out there including Diego Penny in goal and by the end of the match everybody had featured.
We lined up as follows in the first half:
Jensen, Mears, Jordan, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Blake, K McDonald, Fletcher, Paterson, Elliott.
Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Kalvenes, Rodriguez, Thompson, Edgar, Duff, Kay, van der Schaaf.
With the match underway we almost took the lead immediately after a sweet chip over the Bantams back four by debut boy Steven Fletcher put Martin Paterson in the clear. Paterson though could only sky the shot from 20 yards out.
The Clarets though did take the lead on 13 minutes after a great pass by Jordan found Blake. Cutting in from the right, Blake with a square ball found Alexander on the edge of the box and Grezza made no mistake with his shot to put the Clarets 1-0 up.
It was Alexander though 11 minutes later who misplaced a pass to let in the Chuckle Brothers sorry the Boulding brothers (Michael and Rory). They linked well to find James O`Brien who from 12 yards out simply slotted home to equalise. Burnley hit back immediately after the equaliser following a pass by Fletcher that found Elliott. The Wembley hero though was thwarted from scoring thanks to an alert Matthew Convey who saved well after diving low to his left.
Burnley now began to turn up the screw and had we scored in this period the end result could have been very different indeed. Paterson came close to restoring the lead on 30 minutes after attempting a spectacular overhead kick which hit the underside of the crossbar. Three minutes later and the impressive Fletcher should have done better from 12 yards out after some nice approach play between Paterson and McDonald had found a way through the shaky Bantams defence. He couldn`t keep the ball down though and another chance went begging.
We should have capitalised on these chances and in typical fashion we were punished for not taking them when in the 36th minute, the Bantams got the lead. In a one-on-one situation, Michael Boulding found himself heading towards goal with only Jensen to beat and from eight yards out he did just that with a well-taken shot to put the Bantams 2-1 up.
Convey had to run out from his line in the dying seconds of the first half to deny McDonald from scoring after being put through by Alexander and that was the final action of the half.
You could argue had we kept the same team for the start of the second half we would probably have come back but that is not the nature of these friendly games and a more or less completely new Burnley team took the field for the start of the second half with only Mears, Elliott, McDonald and Blake keeping their places.
It was the Clarets though who nearly equalised after just six minutes from the start of the second half. An attempted shot by McDonald though hit the back of Rodriguez with the referee deciding the local lad had strayed just offside.
The Bantams then came back powerfully looking determined to further embarrass the Clarets and extend their lead. Bradford substitute, James Hewson approaching 60 minutes of play had two attempts on goal in the space of a few minutes but managed to screw the ball wide on both occasions.
Clarets fans would have been pleased to see van der Schaaf come on in the 63rd minute as a replacement for Mears. He had a torrid time for the Clarets last season after a bout of illness and couldn`t break into the team. He signed on loan for Danish Superliga side Brøndby IF in February 2009, where he stayed until the end of the 2008-9 season. His appearance for the Clarets was his first since the opening game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough last season and suggests his long-term future with the club is no longer in doubt.
Joey Gudjonsson by now playing in a very unfamiliar role at right back cleared a header off the line following a panicky looking display by the Clarets in defence. Penny then had to prove his worth by superbly saving the rebound.
With just 20 minutes to play, Owen Coyle made his final substitution ensuring all the named 20 players got to feature with Adam Kay replacing Steven Thompson.
The game simply petered out after that and it would be the Bantams who would have the bragging rights and the Clarets who would be accused of being "Premier league? You are having a Larf!"
But as I said at the start of the article, this result matters not one jot in my opinion. It was just an opportunity to dust away the cobwebs, introduce some new faces and get them used to playing with their new colleagues and of course try loads of tactics and experiments. Folk may well remember last season that we lost our first pre-season friendly to a North Carolina under 21 side in the US of all teams (Cary Railhawks now Cary Clarets) after which we did not look back in the rest of our pre-season friendlies.
Anyway let`s see what the next friendly brings with the Clarets travelling to the seaside to face another League 2 side, Morecambe this Tuesday night ( 14th July @7:45 pm KO)
Burnley (first half): Jensen, Mears, Jordan, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Blake, K McDonald, Fletcher, Paterson, Elliott.
Burnley (second half): Penny, Mears (van der Schaaf 64), Duff, Edgar, Kalvenes, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Blake, Rodriguez, Thompson (Kay 69).
Bradford (starting): Convey, Bateson, L O,Brien, J O'Brien, Williams, Clarke, Colbeck, Bullock, R Boulding, M Boulding, Brandon.
Subs: Arnison, Mannus, Ramsden, Rehman, Horne, Sharry, Smith, Hadfield, Osborne, Evans, Hanson, Dean
Referee: C Oliver
Gate: 3,917 (2,020 Clarets!)
Date:Sunday July 12 2009
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