Accy Thump, Clarets Leave It Late!
The Clarets avoided an embarrassing defeat in their traditional pre-season friendly game against League 2 side Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground last night. They came from two goals down to score twice in the last seven minutes of the match and earn a 2-2 draw .Stanley 2-0 up after 83 minutes thanks to a goal in each half from John Miles and Sean McConville were stunned by a Blake free kick and then a last minute wonder strike from Steven Thompson.
Clarets fans though might be wondering this morning if the club were in their right mind organising a football match just 36 hours after getting of a transatlantic flight following a gruelling 10 day tour of the West Coast. The squad had played two games in the searing heat of California and Oregon and having barely had chance to recover from jet-lag were now pitched against Accrington Stanley. At least they would be now playing in the more temperate climate of a British Summer (i.e. Rain lashing it down!)
Owen Coyle seemed to recognise that his squad were now suffering from a severe case of body-clock malfunction and named just six substitutes for the match and selected a starting eleven from the players who had mainly been rested or had had a small part to play in our last match against Portland Timbers at the PGE Park.
One player who was never in the running for selection was Martin Paterson. He picked up a tight hamstring in training whilst out in Ventura and so missed his third match running. It is understood however that he will be back in the reckoning for our next friendly against Leeds United at Turf Moor this Saturday.
Michael Duff was also missing and he may have been rested after picking up an ankle injury late in the Timbers game. Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander and Elliott were the others who missed out and they had all previously started and played most of the last game in Oregon.
The line-up therefore was as follows:
Penny, Mears, Edgar, Jordan, Easton, Eagles, Gudjonsson, McCann, Blake, Thompson, Fletcher
Subs: Jensen, Eckersley, Carlisle, McCann, van der Schaaf, Rodriguez
In front of a substantial all-ticket crowd and with the match underway, it was soon clear that the Clarets minds were somewhere else probably between the sun of California and bed although they did have quite a bit of possession in these early stages.
It was not until halfway through the first half though that the Clarets had their first real chance of breaking the deadlock. McDonald on a dart towards goal down the left passed to Blake but his powerful rising shot hit the side netting.
Fletcher thumped a 25 yarder towards goal after 30 minutes following a good run by McDonald this time down the right but the ball was deflected over the bar. Our record signing from Hibernian though went one better just three minutes later and actually got the ball in the net only for play to be brought back for offside. Moments later and it was McDonald who came close to getting the opener after charging in to collect a cross from Blake. His volley however on the run went over the bar.
On 36 minutes, Eagles swapped wings and tried his luck from the left getting in a sweet cross to the back post. With Stanley defender, Dunbavin breathing down his neck, Fletcher just failed to connect and another chance went begging.
Although Burnley looked subdued and suffering from jetlag, Accrington Stanley up until now had not really been in the game and their first real chance did not come until the 37th minute when Penny turned to get to a daisy-cutter from Ryan and turned the ball around the post.
A couple of minutes later though and the Clarets fans were silenced after Stanley took the lead. Miles on the run thumped the ball past Penny with the back four looking somewhat in another world.1-0 Stanley!
Burnley clearly smarting from the sucker punch tried immediately to get back on level terms and nearly succeeded. Dunbavin had to save well getting to a Jordan shot from 10 yards following a flick by Fletcher from a Mears right-wing cross.
A cross by Gudjonsson was then only half-cleared with Fletcher picking up the ball inside the box and letting rip. His curled shot though just failed to find the corner of the net.
That was the final action of the first half with Stanley leading 1-0 at the break.
Coyle made three changes for the start of the second-half. Eckersley, McCann and Rodriguez came on for Mears, Gudjonsson and Fletcher.Rodriguez was soon into action picking up a pass from Blake. He controlled the ball well and got round two Accy players before shooting. The ball though went just wide of the near post.
Penny then denied substitute, Andrew Proctor from two yards out with a superb one-handed save.
With 65 minutes on the clock, Easton down the right put Eagles clear. Eagles looked certain to score with his side-footed shot but somehow the Stanley keeper pulled off a tremendous save.
One minute later though things got worse for the Clarets who now found themselves 2-0 down with an embarrassing defeat looking on the cards. A shaky defence let in McConville and Penny should have done better to stop his 18 yard shot.
Somehow though that never say die attitude from the Clarets one more came to the fore despite half the team looking like they wanted to hit the sack rather than the goal. It however needed some inspiration from a Robbie Blake free kick on 83 minutes to set them on their way to recovery.
The free-kick was awarded for a foul on Rodriguez 25 yards from goal to the right. In characteristic fashion, Blake thumped the ball through the wall and foiled the diving keeper with the ball finding the back of the net just inside the near post.
Eagles nearly equalised moments later but he put the ball just inches too high from 18 yards out but in a last minute, last ditch effort we finally saved our blushes. Dunbavin had denied McCann with a diving save but a spectacular spin and shot by Thompson in the penalty area found the back of the net much to the delight of Clarets fans who could now go home without red faces.
With news that the friendly against Chester on Thursday night had now been cancelled, the squad will now be able to have a long-needed rest and have chance to recover before taking on Leeds United at Turf Moor in our next pre-season friendly this Saturday.
Burnley: Penny, Mears (Eckersley 46), Jordan, Edgar (Carlisle 60), Easton, Eagles, Gudjonsson (McCann 46), McDonald (van der Schaaf 65), Blake, Thompson, Fletcher (Rodriguez 46).
Stanley (starting): Dunbavin, Cavanagh, Winnard, Kempson, Edwards, Joyce, Miles, Ryan, Symes, Mullin, Grant.
Subs: Richardson, C King, G King, Proctor, Field, Lloyd, Murphy, Turner, McConville, Burton.