Last Time We Met...Coventry City (Part 2)
Burnley last played Coventry City back in November last year at the Ricoh Arena. The match was played on Saturday 29th November 2010 in front of a crowd of 14,432. It was a disappointing day out for Clarets fans though and we came away empty handed after suffering a 1-0 defeat. The defeat also brought to an end our five match unbeaten run although to be honest on the road these results had been mainly frustrating draws.
A solitary goal in the 57th minute scored by Coventry`s Michael Doyle against the run of play was enough to give the Sky Blues all three points and leave Clarets fans questioning Brian Laws tactics and team selection. Amidst frustrating chants from Clarets fans to move to 4-4-2, Brian Laws completely ignored their pleas stubbornly sticking with 4-5-1 even to the extent of bringing on Wallace and Thompson in the 68th minute but then taking off Iwelumo and Cork when a double pronged attack up front looked the obvious answer. Many Clarets fans in any case had already been questioning whether it was right to have had Wallace on the bench after his stunning super sub appearance in our previous match at home to Watford. It seemed unfair by Laws to stifle Wallace`s enthusiasm when he had worked so hard to try and claim a starting eleven place in the last match after scoring a goal and putting over a cross that lead to a successful penalty kick.
It was cold, dull & foggy in the city of Coventry and the grimness of it all was transferred onto the pitch. This was a scrappy, dire game with few chances for either side. Burnley probably had the better of them but once again failed to make them count.
That day we lined up as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Easton, Alexander, Eagles, Cork, Elliott, Rodriuez, Iwelumo
Subs: Jensen, Cort, Edgar, Bikey, Marney, Wallace, Thompson.
Burnley looked the stronger side in the first twelve minutes although Coventry got an early chance when Sky Blues skipper, Lee Carsley charged forward to let rip with a shot that dipped towards goal before Grant parried the ball away.
The Clarets got their first real chance on seven minutes when a long punt by Grant released Rodriguez who was clear in the box with just Sky Blues keeper, Kieren Westwood to beat. It was a difficult angle for Jay Rod though and the keeper stuck out an arm to block his left-footed attempt.
Chris Iwelumo got a chance to break his scoring duck away from home when Eagles got the ball to him but he seemed to delay his shot giving time for Coventry defender, James McPake to get in and block the shot.
Coventry`s tactics seemed to be to pump the ball up to the two tall strikers up front, namely Marlon King and Clive Platt at every opportunity. Most of the time, Duff and Carlisle were able to deal with the danger with the game now becoming a particularly scrappy stalemate.
In one Coventry attack though, Carlisle was penalised for a foul on Coventry winger, Gary McSheffrey. Taking the free kick himself, McSheffrey belted the ball towards the top corner of the net only for Grant at full stretch to pull off a great save.
Carlisle got his head to the ball from a corner taken by Graham Alexander but his header went over the bar. Burnley looked a threat on the break but they just couldn`t seem to make it count.
With four minutes of the first half remaining, Eagles went on a surge down the middle and linked well with Elliott to bamboozle the Coventry defence. He will have been annoyed though with his tame shot which sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Stalemate then at half-time and it now looked increasingly like the first goal could be the winner.
Laws made no changes at half-time and ten minutes into the second half, the Clarets had their first chance of the half to break the deadlock. Tyrone Mears got a ball over the top to find Iwelumo but once again that elusive first away goal eluded the Scot after he shot just wide from 18 yards out.
Two minutes later though and the pendulum swung strongly in Coventry`s favour when they took the lead. Michael Doyle latched onto the ball from a Gunnarsson corner after Iwelumo had done well to head clear and from 22 yards out he fired past Grant to score his first goal since February 2009.
Alexander shortly after nearly got an equaliser when his long range effort went stubbornly wide but with a restless away following desperate for Laws to make some changes, it was only a matter of time before the gaffer reacted. He did react but not in the way the fans were hoping. On 68 minutes he made a double substitution. Thompson was one of the players coming on so surely he would now partner Iwelumo up front and we would revert to the successful formula of 4-4-2 tried out only last week at home to Watford. You could almost hear the anguish of the Clarets faithful when Iwelumo came off instead and we kept with 4-5-1 with Cork also coming off to be replaced by Wallace.
Chances for the Clarets were now few and far between. Thompson had a chance to equalise after a shot by Elliott was blocked by McPake and the ball rebounded back to him but he just couldn`t get the right purchase and direction on his shot.
That was it and the final whistle brought to an end another miserable day out for Clarets fans. We had only won one league game now in the last thirty one away matches and indeed only three in thirty nine games. The Clarets fans frustrations with Brian Laws were also once more coming to the fore and it seemed that his days would be numbered.
The Clarets took four points off Coventry City though during our promotion season of 2008/9. We visited the Ricoh Arena on the night of Tuesday 21st October 2008 .We came away with three points after beating the Sky Blues 3-1; our second successive win on this ground following a 2-1 victory the previous season. The win propelled the Clarets into sixth spot giving all Burnley fans the belief that we could be in the play-offs come the end of the season.
Burnley though suffered their traditional Christmas slump notching up five games without picking up a point before beating Charlton 2-1 at the beginning of February to break the poor run of form. That same month, Coventry City were the visitors to Turf Moor. The return clash was also a midweek night match, played on Tuesday 17th February 2009 in front of 14,595 fans. This time the result was disappointing and we could only manage a point in a 1-1 draw. A victory would have seen the Clarets in one of the play-offs spots despite their poor form over the festive season and New Year but it wasn`t to be. The result though did mean we had now played four games without defeat so things were looking up a bit after the awful Christmas. We would extend that to five with a point away to Norwich before coming down to earth with a bump when Brian Laws` Sheffield Wednesday came into town and thumped us 4-2. It would though at least be sweetness and light come the end of the season but our Wembley dreams seemed to have hit the buffers in those early months of 2009.
Back in October 2008, Clarets fans were by now sensing this could be our season with Owen Coyle at the helm. He had the team motivated with belief and we were playing some attractive free-flowing football. In our clash at the Ricoh, Coyle selected the following line-up:
Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Van der Schaaf, Blake, Eagles, Rodriguez
In a rather uninspiring first half with quite a bit of sloppy play by both sides, it was Coventry who took the lead with five minutes of the half remaining. A rather controversial penalty was awarded when Mifsud was determined to get something for an innocuous looking challenge by Alexander and seemed to make a meal of it. The referee however awarded the spot kick and Ward put the Sky Blues 1-0 up. It was to prove a busy night for Suffolk referee, Mike Thorpe who booked six players in total, three from each side. Bizarrely it was Duff who was booked following the penalty incident rather than Alexander with Paterson and Kalvenes the other Clarets picking up yellow cards.
However it was 1-0 to Coventry at half-time
The second half would prove a different story with the Clarets dominating for most of the half. Michael Duff smashed home the equaliser after 52 minutes to score his first goal since the opening game of last season.
With ten minutes to go, the Clarets then turned up the heat inspired by two substitutions with Blake and in particular Eagles coming on from the bench Chris Eagles yet again proved he should really be in the starting eleven by first assisting in Robbie Blake`s first goal in 25 games after 88 minutes and then two minutes later scoring himself with a stunning 25 yard shot.
The away win was a great tonic and Clarets fans could now once again 'dare to dream`
The dream had turned into a bit of a nightmare over Christmas but at least by the time Coventry City came to Turf Moor for the return game we had put a stop to the awful run and had begun to play well again picking up some notable points against sides pushing for automatic promotion. In our last three games before Coventry, we had defeated struggling Charlton 2-1 at Turf Moor, picked up a valuable point on the road away to Birmingham and had then beat League leaders, Wolves 1-0 at home.
Expectations were therefore high and another three points against Coventry, a pretty average side that season would have really set-us up well for the promotion push.
The Clarets lined up as follows:
Jensen, Williams, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Paterson, Thompson, Blake
Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Rodriguez
All we had to do was to play like we had in the previous game at home to league leaders, Wolves and the result would have been a formality but then in typical Burnley fashion we failed to grasp the nettle Instead of that we seemed under par and error prone with the final pass going astray time and time again as attack after attack broke down despite having the lion`s share of possession for most of the game. We just couldn`t seem to make the pressure count with wayward passes, shots off target and the Sky Blues keeper playing a blinder when it mattered. It was a pretty scrappy affair all round to be honest and such a disappointing match for Clarets fans.
Leon Best scored for the Sky Blues one minute before half-time thanks to a defensive blunder by Stephen Jordan and it looked like that was going to be enough for the Sky Blues to take all three points until one minute from time.
Chris Eagles, who was one of the players who had come on from the bench as part of a triple substitution after 71 minutes was our savior! Charging towards goal, he chipped the ball over Coventry keeper, Westwood to score. Clarets fans hopes were then raised when the fourth official announced there would be four minutes of added time, but try as we might that elusive winner was not to be and the Clarets had to be content with a point.
If you want to read more about both these games you can visit our Match Archive by clicking these links:
Sky High Burnley Hit 6th
The Point in Disappointment!