Clarets End Pre-Season with Another Defeat
In terms of results it has been a torrid pre-season for the Clarets, especially since they returned from their US Tour. In the four games they have played in the UK after returning from the US West Coast, they have only managed to draw one game against Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground, losing the remaining three including yesterday`s game against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in Perth.
The Clarets went down 1-0 thanks to late goal from the penalty spot after 83 minutes and perhaps worryingly that is now the third game in succession we have failed to score a goal.
The Saints game brings to an end the two-match Scottish Tour and indeed our pre-season campaign is now complete. We now have just six days to prepare for the start of our first ever Premier League campaign against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium next Saturday (August 15th 30m KO) and we just have to hope that the lacklustre performances of late and indeed the lack of goals is just a blip and a symptom of friendly games.
Owen Coyle still remains buoyant and positive despite the defeat at the hands of the club he previously managed before coming to Turf Moor. He saw a number of encouraging signs in this match and indeed maybe our speed of thought, passing and movement did show signs of improvement although once more we seemed to struggle especially in the first half. The one true positive appears to be our new loan signing, Fernando Guerrero who once again livened things up when he came on from the bench to play in the second half. He truly does look an exciting prospect and it will be interesting to see if the Ecuador 19 year old can get a start next Saturday.
Owen Coyle did not have a full squad for this match after allowing Caldwell, Fletcher and Alexander to join the Scottish camp in preparation for their World Cup qualifier against Norway in Oslo on Wednesday, August 12.
Michael Duff was again sidelined with his ankle injury and we also learnt that Tyrone Mears was also injured and therefore not in contention for the Saints game after also missing out on the Kilmarnock match. There was however a welcome return for Martin Paterson who returned to the starting line-up after being sidelined for the last five games following a tight hamstring he picked up in training before the first US match against VC Fusion. Pato partnered Steve Thompson up front and in the absence of holding midfielder, Graham Alexander, the Clarets lined-up in 4:4:2 formation as follows:
Jensen, Eckersley, Carlisle, Edgar, Jordan, Eagles, McCann, Gudjonsson, Blake, Thompson, Paterson
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Easton, Elliott, McDonald, Guerrero, Rodriguez
Carlisle was made captain for the day in the absence of both Caldwell and Alexander and the team took the field in their new away strip of white shirt and black shorts. 700 Clarets were at the match, as referee William Collum got the game underway.
In many ways the match seemed to be following a similar trend to the previous game against Killie in the opening minutes. It was a quiet start for the Clarets with our defence looking somewhat shaky under early pressure from the home side.
Jensen could only watch as a shot by Colin Samuel from 25 yards out flew just wide of the post after 3 minutes of play. The Saints striker had run virtually the whole length of the field from a Clarets corner at the other end of the pitch before unleashing his shot. St Johnstone had another two chances to break the deadlock before Paterson gave Burnley our first chance to score on 10 minutes. His shot though was easily dealt with by Saints keeper, Alan Main. Burnley got their first corner after 16 minutes and Paterson was unlucky not to score from it after his overhead kick flew wide of the goal.
Clarets fans had to thank their lucky stars that Jensen was on form in this match, with St Johnstone being foiled time and time again by the Great Dane! On 20 minutes, with St Johnstone breaking down the left flank, a through ball found Liam Craig who let rip with a shot that Jensen had to tip over the bar. A shot by Samuel four minutes later went just wide of the post as the Saints continued the pressure
It was Jensen again who diving to his left had to save the day, this time from a header by Davidson on 33 minutes.
Two minutes later and at last there was some action at the other end. A defensive mix up and sloppy play by the Saints let in Paterson but his shot was deflected and safely mopped up by keeper, Main.
The best chance for the Clarets to break the deadlock came just before half-time when on 38 minutes, McCann tested Main following some nice play on the left flank. The keeper though saved well and 0-0 it was at half-time!
Once more Owen Coyle refused to make any pre-season friendly changes for the start of a second half but that would soon change.
First though, it was the Clarets who came out of the blocks the quickest making a lively start to the second-half. Main saved from Paterson on 47 minutes plucking the ball away from his placed shot to the top corner after Pato had kept the Saints defence at bay to shoot.
Five minutes later and Blake made mincemeat of a couple of defenders to shoot from 18 yards out. The ball though whizzed just wide of the post.
With 58 minutes on the clock, it was time for Coyle to make his typical on the hour changes. This time he made a double substitution with McDonald and Rodriguez coming on for McCann and Thompson.
Eagles on the hour mark got in a cross after running through the host`s defence but the danger was cleared and four minutes later he was replaced by Elliott. Clarets fans were also excited because in a double substitution, new whiz kid, Fernando Guerrero also came on to replace Pato.
McDonald and Elliott combined well on 65 minutes. The Scot got in a cross to the far-post to find Elliott but Main saved well.
The impressive and lively Guerrero surged past the Saints defence on 71 minutes to earn his side a corner and then two minutes later it was Blake from a free kick who tested the keeper again to earn another corner. Nothing came from them but it was now the Clarets who looked the most likely to score as the pressure continued.
The Clarets thought they had broken the deadlock on 75 minutes when Rodriguez got the ball in the back of the net but the referee was having none of it having seen a push.
Easton and Kalvenes were now on the pitch having replaced Jordan and Gudjonsson in a double-substitution after 75 minutes. Penny was now alone on the bench with Coyle having used all his other substitutes.
St Johnstone were still in this game despite the Burnley possession and they came close on 79 minutes when Steven Milne fired wide of the post but two minutes later the action was back down the other end. Blake bamboozled a couple of defenders to cross for Jay Rodriguez. His header though went straight into the arms of Main.
Disaster struck though for Burnley on 83 minutes. Saints sub, Peter McDonald was adjudged to have been brought down by Kalvenes in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Sheerin made no mistake to put the Saints 1-0 up and so it stayed with the final whistle bringing an end to another disappointing match for the Clarets.
Oh well this is one pre-season that most Clarets fans will be keen to forget but at least Stoke City who we face in the Premier League opening game next Saturday have had an equally awful set of friendly results if not worse! Bring it on!
Burnley: Jensen, Eckersley, Carlisle, Edgar, Jordan (Kalvenes 75), Eagles (Guerrero 64), Blake, McCann (McDonald 58), Gudjonsson (Easton 75), Thompson (Rodriguez 58), Paterson (Elliott 64)
Sub not used: Penny
St Johnstone: Main, Mackay, Grainger, Morris, McCaffrey, Gartland, Davidson, Craig, Swankie, Samuel, Morais.
Subs: McLean, Irvine, Anderson, Hardie, Sheerin, Moon, Milne, MacDonald, Deuchar, Heagney.
Referee: William Collum
Attendance: 2811 (700 Clarets)