Date:Sunday August 2 2009
If the Clarets were looking for a stroll in the park against League One side, Leeds United on Saturday in their friendly at Turf Moor they were in for a shock. Leeds United were the club who seemed up for this match and in the end they thoroughly deserved their 2-1 victory against a Clarets side that just never turned-up. The inevitable taunts by the rowdy Leeds fans of Premiership You Are Having a Laugh in this case were totally justified and we have to hope this was just a blip because if we play anything like that in our next home match against the mighty Manchester United we are quite simply going to get annihilated!
The game was our only pre-season match scheduled to be played at Turf Moor too which makes the result even more disappointing.
To be honest this was an absolutely awful display by the Clarets, and yes it is maybe only a friendly but I am sure the Clarets fans and Owen Coyle still expected more against our Yorkshire rivals. Our defence was poor no matter which combination Coyle tried during the course of the game. Leeds caught out our dozy back four time and time again and to be honest the visitors could have had a pan full of goals had they been more accurate with their shooting. It wasn`t much better upfront for the Clarets with the midfield time and time again wasting the final ball with Leeds then looking threatening on the break. Indeed, Leeds without some of their star players looked a hungry side and played some attractive football. I am not sure how good we made them look with this dire performance but if they continue to play like that they should be a force to contend with again in League 1 this season.
Can we make excuses for that performance? Have we simply played too many pre-season games and expected too much after a gruelling US Tour and flight home? We made all the jet-lag excuses though for the last match against League 2 Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night. The Clarets played that game just 36 hours after getting off a transatlantic plane although at least we did manage to avoid an embarrassing 2-0 defeat by scoring twice in the last seven minutes to earn a 2-2 draw.
You would have thought a few days rest would have been enough to recover in time for the Leeds match but far too many players still looked jaded, disinterested and below-par.
Two regular players sat out this game and indeed I saw the two of them sat together in the Bob Lord Stand during the first half. One of these was Martin Paterson who had been expected to return after sitting out the last three friendlies with a tight hamstring. Perhaps Coyle did not want to risk him? The other was Michael Duff who was injured in the game against Portland Timbers in the US and did not feature in the Accrington Stanley match in midweek. There were some reports that Duff had been seen hobbling around on crutches with a bandaged foot after injuring his ankle at PGE Park but at least I can report if that was true, it was no longer the case. Both Paterson and Duff appeared to be walking normally without any limping as they moved in and out of the Bob Lord Stand. Remco van der Schaaf was also sidelined for this game having made a few appearances recently in pre-season friendlies coming on from the bench.
However let`s get back to the starting eleven and substitutes. Owen Coyle as expected named some of the players that sat out the match against Accy in midweek so there was a return for Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander and Elliott who were all named in the starting line-up.
The complete line up was as follows
Jensen, Mears, Caldwell, Carlisle, Kalvenes, Eagles, Alexander, McCann, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher
Subs: Penny, Eckersley, Edgar, Jordan, Easton, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Thompson, Rodriguez
On a pretty damp showery day, a gate of 7,899 turned up for this friendly and certainly the biggest din seemed to be coming from the Leeds contingent with the Clarets fans sounding a little subdued Maybe our minds were fixed on the Premier League campaign to come with our eyes focussing on the boards round the ground that said the next match at Turf Moor would be against Manchester United! I just felt somehow before kick-off that we were going to struggle in this match, call it second sense, but so it proved.
Referee, Graham Laws got the match underway and it was the Clarets who nearly opened the scoring just two minutes into the game. Robbie Blake just couldn`t get the proper contact after some nice work by Eagles who had beaten the defender Ben Parker, to pass the ball back from the by-line.
Leeds nearly took the lead themselves after four minutes when Parker shot across the box from the by-line. Nobody in the Leeds attack though were in the right place to make contact with his low cross and the ball went harmlessly away to safety.
Eagles with nine minutes on the clock tried a shot that dipped just over the bar.
The visitors were by now by far the liveliest side and looked the most dangerous on the break. You would never think that Burnley were Premier League and Leeds a League One side! It was embarrassing to watch at times.
The Clarets then rode their luck on 27 minutes with the woodwork coming to their rescue. Jensen standing still could only stop and stare as a shot from Bradley Johnson hit the post. Tyrone Mears who was having to be honest a bit of a nightmear (!) match, was then at fault a minute later after being well beaten by Grella who getting inside our new defender unleashed a curling shot which went just over the bar.
Burnley put together some nice moves in the middle of the park at times to be honest and their passing game did improve but they just couldn`t seem to make the ball tell in the final third of the pitch and although Leeds at times seemed to have similar problems you just sensed they were the most likely to break the deadlock.
On 35 minutes that looked certain to happen for the visitors when Enoch Showunmi from just six yards out decided to side-foot the shot and somehow and remarkably miss much to the relief of the defence who had be caught napping yet again. A minute later and with Leeds on the offensive again, Johnson unleashed a shot from distance but again it failed to hit the target. Clarets fans by now were looking more and more red faced by the minute and in the 39th minute the embarrassment was complete when Leeds deservedly took the lead after yet another slip-up in defence this time by Caldwell. Grella pounced on the mistake, lined up his shot calmly and curled the ball into the net with Jensen well-beaten.
There was just time for the Clarets to try and redeem themselves on the stroke of half-time after some nice play between Fletcher and Blake. Eagles picking up the ball though could only shoot wide and as the whistle went for the end of the first half, that board that announced our next home game against Manchester United was looking more and more intimidating.
Owen Coyle perhaps surprisingly made just one change for the start of the second half with one new boy defender replacing another, the lacklustre Tyrone Mears came off to be replaced by former Manchester United defender, Richard Eckersley.
Almost straight from the second half kick-off we were awarded a free-kick in Robbie Blake territory but could the former Leeds United player score direct from a free-kick against his old club? The answer was no, with the ball going straight at keeper, Casper Ankergren. Even Blake by his own standards seemed to be struggling in this match.
Coyle decided to replace him on 55 minutes with Thompson coming on but it had minimal effect with Leeds once more putting us to shame, playing some attractive football and looking the most likely to score and double their lead.
A shot by Grella on 60 minutes was screwed wide of target and nine minutes later the visitors indeed doubled their lead with a well taken and to be honest deserved goal. Snodgrass got in a deep shot that fell nicely to Robinson who beat Jensen with a nicely angled shot.
Most Clarets by now were perhaps wishing they hadn`t bothered with every minute becoming more and more embarrassing and with the Leeds fans in strong voice making us all cringe even more.
For heaven`s sake Burnley do something and at least they did on 74 minutes!
From a short corner by Eagles, Elliott picked up the ball to cross and in slid home debutant and former Newcastle centre-back, David Edgar to score and make the score more respectable.
It gave some hope to Clarets fans with sixteen minutes still to play but it was more forlorn hope than expectation. There was very little action in the last fifteen minutes of the match and scuffed shots by first Eagles and then McDonald in the dying seconds of the game just about summed things up
Star player? I thought they were all rubbish so the photograph above is apt!
A very disappointing day and things definitely need to improve before we kick off against Stoke at the Britannia on Saturday 15th August in our first game in the top flight for 33 years. First though there is the little matter of the Scottish Tour, with the Clarets now travelling North of the Border to first face Kilmarnock on Thursday August 6th (7:30pm KO) followed by the clash against Owen Coyle`s former club, St Johnstone on Saturday August 8th (Now 2:00pm KO)
Burnley: Jensen, Mears (Eckersley 46), Caldwell, Carlisle (Edgar 69), Kalvenes (Jordan 55), Eagles, Alexander, McCann (McDonald 69), Elliott (Gudjonsson 69), Blake (Thompson 55), Fletcher (Rodriguez 69).
Subs: Penny, Easton.
Leeds United: Ankergren, Crowe (Snodgrass 62), Parker (White 72), Howson, Marques (Michalik 46), Kisnorbo (Huntington 62), Hughes, Prutton, Showunmi (Sheehan 78), Grella, Johnson (Robinson 62).
Date:Sunday August 2 2009
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