Last Time We Met...QPR
Burnley face a trip to London this Saturday to play current League leaders, Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Since the last time we played them we have been to the Premier League and back but in our promotion season of 2008/9 we actually faced up to QPR on four occasions twice in the League and twice in the FA Cup.
The Rs would have been sick and tired of seeing the Clarets since we had the upper hand in all of the games. We got the double over them that season in the Championship beating them 2-1 at Loftus Road back in November 2008 and then winning 1-0 at Turf Moor towards the end of the season in April 2009 when we were fighting for a play-offs spot.
In between the two league games we played them twice in the FA Cup. A dull 0-0 draw at Loftus Road on the 3rd January 2009 forced a replay at Turf Moor ten days later, a game we won 2-1 in extra time with the scores level after ninety minutes. The victory propelled us into the fourth round. We best West Brom 3-1 at home in the next round but our cup run came to an end with a fifth round defeat away to Arsenal after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 at the Emirates.
You need to understand the background going into the first game we played against QPR that season, the league game at Loftus Road played on Saturday 15th November.
Burnley were flush with success after beating the Nation`s top football club, Chelsea in London on the previous Wednesday night knocking the Blues out of the Carling Cup. We had enjoyed a few days well earned rest down South before travelling a few miles across West London to face Chelsea`s neighbours, Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
The match against the Rs might not have been surrounded by all the glamour and media attention of playing and beating Chelsea but the outcome of this game would be far more important in the long term if the Clarets were to maintain a Top 6 spot and their push for promotion that season.
Owen Coyle was concerned that this match could be an anti-climax as did many Clarets fans. The expression, 'After the Lord Mayor`s Show' was coined by Coyle in a pre-match interview and echoed by the fans.
At the start of this match, QPR were just one point behind the Clarets in 7th place hoping to climb above Burnley in 5th place but any concerns the Clarets fans had about this match were dispelled by the time of the final whistle with the Clarets coming out victors in a 2-1 win.
The Burnley line up that day was a follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan, Elliott, McCann, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Thompson.
Subs: Penny, K McDonald, Akinbiyi, Paterson, Mahon
Our captain Steven Caldwell had to sit this game out after picking up an automatic one match suspension for the double-yellow sending off in the previous match at Stamford Bridge. Clarke Carlisle replaced him in the centre of defence and the captain`s armband was given to Graham Alexander at right back. Yep, it is difficult to remember these days that Grezza used to be our full back until the holding midfield role was invented for him.
The Clarets started the brighter of the two teams and dominated the first ten minutes of the game. It was disappointing therefore that QPR took the lead on 14 minutes after they suddenly found their feet.
An attack down the right flank led to the ball being fed inside to Dexter Blackstock.
Jensen desperately diving to the bottom corner could not prevent Blackstock`s curling shot crossing the line and giving QPR first blood. QPR now scented more blood and put the Clarets under pressure looking to double their lead. The Clarets resilience held though and with 34 minutes on the clock, Burnley got their deserved equaliser in classic Blake fashion!
Robbie Blake looked ready to pounce on the edge of the box, and pounce he did after Gudjonsson spotted him there and threaded the ball to him. In characteristic fashion, he collected the ball, spun and wellied the ball into the top left hand corner of the net with Rs keeper, Cerny wondering what had happened.
The Clarets now piled on the pressure but it remained 1-1 at half-time with the prospect of a thrilling second half ahead.
With the second half underway Burnley again started the brighter but then QPR suddenly stepped up a gear. It was certainly end-to-end stuff and a pulsating game for the neutral. In the 56th minute, Alan Mahon came on to replace the injured Eagles who had been stretchered off with a twisted ankle and four minutes later became the hero after giving Burnley the lead.
Alexander linked with Elliott to find Blake on the right wing who crossed over to the far side of the area. Mahon picked up the dropping ball to score with a superb left foot shot and put the Clarets 2-1 up.
The match continued to excite with both sides going hell for leather providing plenty of scoring opportunities but Burnley held on to win despite having to play out a nervous five minutes of added time. The victory saw the Clarets move into 4th spot whilst putting some clear blue water between them and the chasing pack.
If that match was thrilling and exciting, the next time these two sides met would be in complete contrast. With the Clarets having one eye on promotion and going well in the Carling Cup, the FA Cup third round tie that pitched QPR and Burnley together at Loftus Road seemed an anti-climax for both sides and it was difficult for both sets of fans to whip up any enthusiasm. This game looked a poor, unexciting fixture as soon as it came out the hat and it seemed both sets of fans were not excited by the prospect of this tie with only 8,896 fans turning up to watch it.
The match was played on Saturday 3rd January and the Clarets probably got the worst possible result playing out a goalless draw and having to endure a replay at Turf Moor that nobody wanted! It was a dire game too and one that both sets of fans would want to instantly forget.
Suspensions and injuries ahead of this FA Cup tie caused a headache for Owen Coyle who even struggled to make up the eighteen with only six substitutes named. In the end we went for the following line-up:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Kalvenes, Eagles, Gudjonsson, Elliott, Blake, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Akinbiyi, Kay, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Mahon
Scoring opportunities were few and far between in this game. The Clarets best chance in the first half came after 21 minutes when a corner was only half-cleared by the Rs defence. Elliott kept his eye on the ball and as it dropped he let rip with a 25-yard volley. It hit the woodwork with QPR having the crossbar to thank. Burnley probably had the edge in the first half and Owen Coyle would no doubt have been the happier of the two managers although both sets of fans had been struggling to stay awake.
It did not get much more thrilling in the second half although this time it was QPR who looked more determined to break the deadlock. Alan Mahon who had replaced Blake after 72 minutes once again nearly got the winner following his goal in our Championship victory at Loftus Road back in November.
This time though his left-footed shot flew just inches over the angle.
It was almost a relief when the referee brought this dull game to an end but both teams would now have it all to do again in a replay at Turf Moor. This was played on the night of Tuesday 13th January and again the fans snubbed the match in their numbers with only a paltry 3760 bothering to turn up!
At least this time there was more action and some goals but with the match going into extra time many Clarets fans were wondering what effect these games would be having on our promotion and Carling Cup chances. We were already wobbling in our promotion campaign and had suffered a 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane against Spurs in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final earlier in January with the second leg coming up at Turf Moor on the 21st January just eight days after the QPR FA Cup replay. We also knew on the night that even victory against QPR would mean yet another uninspiring FA Cup game against West Brom in the next round but ces`t la vie better to win than lose I suppose and win we did.
The 2-1 victory after extra time at least gave the Clarets their first win of 2009 so that lifted spirits a little. Owen Coyle had intended to play Paterson upfront with Thompson on the night and he was named in the starting eleven. Our top goal scorer with 15 goals so far that season however picked up a leg injury during the warm-up session and had to be replaced by Robbie Blake. Adam Kay was therefore drafted onto the bench replacing Blake. During the match the injury concerns grew with Chris McCann limping off after 19 minutes to be replaced by Alan Mahon.
With Duff suspended following a straight red-card against Swansea in the previous game, it was no surprise to see Clarke Carlisle return to the centre of defence partnering the skipper, Steven Caldwell.
The full line up was as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, McCann Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Thompson.
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Kay, Mahon, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Akinbiyi
The first half seemed to be following the same dull pattern of the first FA Cup clash at Loftus Road with both sides wondering, not to mention the fans, whether the deadlock was ever going to be broken. It was still 0-0 at half-time.
In the second half though QPR took the lead after Di Carmine scored on 54 minutes but the Clarets quickly equalised six minutes later after a shot by Gudjonsson was blocked on the line. The ball fell to Thompson, who skipping past a defender shot on target to see the ball go over the line via the underside of the bar.
The game entered extra time and with one minute remaining Jay Rodriguez scored to ensure the Clarets had their first win of the year following a poor run of form that had seen them go five games without a win in all competitions over the festive season. No change there then!
The young striker stole the ball off Stewart and running towards the box beat Cerny putting the ball just inside the post.
So it was a victory but at what cost? Paterson injured before kick-off and even worse captain, Steven Caldwell had picked up a fifth yellow in the game and would now miss the vital second leg match against Spurs in the Carling Cup. Oh well at least we now know what happened but at the time we certainly had quite a few worries.
There was still one game to play against QPR though and that was the Championship match at Turf Moor on Saturday 11th April. The Carling Cup defeat to Spurs and the emotions of that night were by now a distant memory and with no further interest now in any of the domestic cup competitions we could now focus on our one main aim, to reach the play-offs!
There was also a bit of drama ahead of the game. Sensationally it was announced on the Friday before the match that Queens Park Rangers had sacked Portuguese manager Paulo Sousa after just 26 games in charge, claiming he divulged sensitive information.
In a club statement, QPR said they took legal advice before acting to 'protect their position'
Sousa, had taken charge in November 2008, but won only seven games with the Rs stalling just below the play-off places. They were in 10th spot by the time they came to Turf Moor in April and looked to have blown their play-offs hopes already being nine points behind Burnley in 6th going into this clash.
Burnley fans already knew just before the kick-off against QPR at Turf Moor that a win would ensure we would be a massive seven points ahead of the 7th placed club.
The club had announced over the tannoy that Blackpool had defeated 7th placed Preston in the local derby at Deepdale, a game that had kicked off earlier at 1pm so all we now needed to do was beat QPR and things would look very rosy indeed for our play-offs hopes.
That is exactly what we did too, beating the Rs 1-0 to stay in 6th place on 69 points, now seven points clear ahead Preston who dropped to 8th and Swansea who replaced our local rivals in 7th place on the same number of points. We now just had to hold our nerve with four matches remaining and we would be in the play-offs.
The result certainly made our Easter and we certainly EGGed on the lads to make sure we got the right result. The attendance this time was 15.058.
Coyle decided to put Pato on the bench and give young Jay Rodriguez his first start up front. This was the one change to the sixteen compared to the last three games so we lined-up as follows:
Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Elliott, Blake, Rodriguez
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Paterson.
The Clarets in truth had a nervy game especially in the last ten minutes but manager-less QPR looked a very average side and the rare Rs attacks seemed to come to nothing with Jensen dealing with anything looking a little more dangerous. The one goal in the 49th minute was in the end enough to secure all three points and make it a very rewarding day for all Clarets fans. The goal came from a Blake corner. As the ball came over, Carlisle got in a strong header that got a touch by Eagles to beat Cerny. Carlisle though was credited with the goal.
You can read more about all four of these games by dropping into our Match Archive and clicking these links:
Another Capitol Win for Clarets
FA Cup Replay After No Goals in Dull Rs Game!
FA Cup Victory but at What Cost?
Easter Eggs-tacy for Clarets Fans