Last Time We Met...Leeds United
Putting aside pre-season friendlies the last time Burnley played Leeds United was in the Championship back in 2006-7. This was a grim season of course for our Yorkshire rivals with the club going into administration, suffering a ten-point deduction and being relegated after finishing bottom of the League. A few seasons in League 1 followed before they finally got promoted as runners-up last season. Burnley of course went in the opposite direction enjoying a spell in the top flight for the first time in 33 years in 2009/10 before suffering relegation.
Back in 2006-7, under Steve Cotterill, Burnley though finished in 15th spot during a period when mid-table mediocrity was becoming the norm for the Clarets. In the two games played that season against Leeds United honours were even.
In November 2006 we beat Leeds 2-1 at Turf Moor but suffered a 1-0 defeat in the return fixture at Elland Road in April 2007.
The match at Turf Moor was played on the night of Tuesday 28th November in front of a crowd of 15,061 fans. It would prove a disaster for Clarets fans and the club despite eventually winning the match 2-1.
The Burnley starting eleven for this game was as follows:
Coyne, Duff, McGreal, Thomas, Harley, Jones, J.O`Connor, Hyde, Elliott, Noel-Williams, Gray
Mahon, McCann and Lafferty would also feature in this came coming on from the bench.
After a goalless first half, Burnley punished Leeds with two goals in two minutes. Gifton Noel -Williams scored the first goal on 67 minutes with Andy Gray getting a second two minutes later. A late consolation goal by Leeds with three minutes to play reduced the arrears but the bad news for the Clarets was that Andy Gray who was our leading marksman and had been scoring for fun fractured his foot in a late challenge .That injury would subsequently rule him out for a lot of the remaining season and from being 4th in the League after this clash and play-offs contenders we would now suffer the usual festive slump and slide down the table.
Many Clarets fans put our poor performance in the second half of the season down to the loss of Gray at a crucial time and the inability of the club to release enough funds to bring in a suitable replacement during the January window although we did welcome back Ade Akinbiyi for his second spell at the club. The loss of Gray however coincided with an awful winless run of 19 games destroying any hope of promotion and indeed threatening the club with relegation after reaching our lowest point of 19th by March 2007. Steve Cotterill was also under considerable pressure with a number of fans baying for his blood. He would hang on for another seven months but in the end that bad spell came back to haunt him despite two really good spells on either side of the luckless run that season.
By the time these two clubs met again at Elland Road on Saturday 14th April, Burnley had begun to recover slightly and were now in 17th spot. Andy Gray too had now recovered from his injury playing in this clash. Burnley had also at least by then broken their winless run following a 4-0 thumping of Plymouth at Turf Moor earlier that month which they had then followed up with two great wins, one away to promotion hopefuls, Birmingham City and then a victory at home against Cardiff City. Could they now make it four wins in a row? Expectations were high but it wasn`t to be.
The Clarets short winning streak of three consecutive matches and 375 minutes without conceding a goal came to an end against Leeds at Elland Road following a 1-0 defeat. A Matt Heath goal in the 21st minute was enough to give Leeds all three points and ease their relegation worries at least for the moment.
The Clarets lined up that day as follows:
Jensen, Harley, Thomas, Caldwell, Duff, Jones, Djemba-Djemba, J O'Connor, Elliott, McVeigh, A Gray.
Subs: Coyne, Spicer, Coughlan, Akinbiyi, McCann
Leeds United also had two familiar faces in their sixteen. Former Clarets idol, Robbie Blake was in the starting line-up for Leeds whilst another ex-Claret, Ian Moore was named on the bench but was not to feature in the game.
In a nervous, tense match Leeds practically dominated the game and the Clarets hardly threatened throughout .Our engine room of James O'Connor and Eric Djemba-Djemba, so effective of late seemed to have an average game by their own standards and the most disappointed player on the pitch was probably Andy Gray who failed to make an impression in the game and never really looked like scoring. Paul McVeigh, who had been the catalyst recently linking up well with Andy Gray also seemed to be off the boil and all Clarets fans were left hoping the defeat was just a blip. The defeat still left us in 17th place on 51 points, which was considered enough to avoid the drop although we were still not technically safe and needed three points at home to Norwich in our next match to be certain of safety.
We won that game and avoided the drop but it was the loss of Gray in the first clash that would have ultimately a significant effect on the club`s history.Owen Coyle would arrive following the departure of Steve Cotterill by mutual consent in November 2007 and we all know what happened then!