Whaddon Easy Win in Cheltenham!
The Clarets put on an impressive display away to League 2 Cheltenham yesterday defeating the Robins 4-0 on their home soil in the second and final game of their South West tour. This was easily their best performance of the summer and if they can beat Rochdale at Spotland this Tuesday night in their final friendly they will have achieved 100% of wins in their pre-season preparations. That would certainly set-them up well for the new season which kicks-off later this month.
It was dangerman Charlie Austin who crushed Mark Yates` men yesterday. He was simply too hot to handle and finished up with a brace of goals. Joseph Mills also got on the score sheet to net his first goal for Burnley since arriving from Reading on loan last month. It was left to Ross Wallace to thump the ball home for distance to make the final score 4-0.
The last time Burnley played Cheltenham, it was in another pre-season friendly just before the start of the 2005-6 season and our manager at the time, Steve Cotterill was making an emotional return to the club he once managed! Well Cotts was there again yesterday as an observer and Clarets fans can only guess what the former Notts County, Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest gaffer must have been thinking as two of his former clubs lined up against each other. Eddie Howe had virtually a full squad to choose from with the exception of Marvin Bartley. The injured Bartley basically was taken along for the ride on the tour to help build team spirit within the squad. He suffered from the recurrence of an injury that flared up towards the end of last season and in fact the midfielder has a stress fracture to his ankle and has been walking around in a protective boot to help aid recovery. The good news this week though is that he can now return to light training after scans revealed everything had now healed up and that the boot could now be removed. Bartley though will not feature in the pre-season games and is still some weeks away from making a full recovery. Martin Paterson was another player who did not feature in the previous game away to Bath City. His knee injury though was not serious and this time Howe decided to name him in the starting eleven against the Robins. We therefore lined up as follows :
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Shackell, Mills, Marney, Wallace, McCann, Stanislas, Austin, Paterson
Subs: Stewart, Duff, Mee, Long, Lafferty, O`Neill, Porter, MacDonald, Hewitt, Vokes, Ings,
The home side made a promising start after winning two early corners but the Clarets soon got in their stride and had the first attempt on goal following a pass from Wallace that found Trippier. The right back`s left footed shot though was just wide of target. Robins` keeper, Scott Brown was then forced into a save after turning a Wallace attempt round the post for a corner. Another corner followed to find Edgar ideally placed twelve yards out but he could only put the ball over the bar. The Clarets began to turn the screw now. Austin made contact from a Stanislas corner but his header took a deflection to fly over for yet another corner. This time Wallace took the flag kick, Marney dummied and Trippier could only drag his shot wide of target.
Burnley were simply dominating the game but didn`t have everything all their own way. A shot from Russell Penn flew past the post but it wouldn`t have counted anyway since the linesman raised an offside flag. A thumping shot from Wallace from 30 yards out flew just wide of target as the Clarets reasserted their authority. Austin picked up the ball from a Mills throw-in chesting it on to Chris McCann. The Irishman then put over a sweeping cross to find Wallace on the right of the box but from close range the keeper managed to save his attempt. A poor back header from Edgar then nearly let in Alan Bennett but he could only lift the ball over Grant across goal with no Robins player running in to make contact.
The deadlock was finally broken just past the half-hour mark following a short corner routine between Wallace and Stanislas. The cross from Stanislas found Austin at the back post and he powerfully headed home back across the keeper to make it 1-0 Burnley.
The Clarets looked likely to increase their lead before the half-time whistle as they began to now pile on the pressure. Brown somehow managed to keep out a Paterson curling effort after tipping the ball against the angle. Stanislas was next to try and increase the lead this time direct from a free-kick but the ball flew wide. An impressive Austin from a Wallace cross then saw another attempted header thwarted as the ball was turned round the post. In attack after Burnley attack, surely the Robins defence would buckle at some point? Paterson laid off the ball for Mills but he could only bend his right-footed shot wide of target. Pato looked to have scored himself after picking up McCann`s pass and getting the better of the keeper. The ball sneaked past Brown but then frustratingly hit the upright and in the end the Clarets had to be content with a 1-0 lead at half-time even though they could have scored a panful!
Howe decided to make a few changes for the start of the second-half. Edgar, Stanislas and Paterson made way for Michael Duff, Ben Mee and Sam Vokes and there was a change in formation with the Clarets now lining up 3-4-1-2. The change in tactics instantly worked and confused the Robins so much they were 2-0 down with the second half only a few seconds old. The second goal came from a Wallace corner and once again there was Austin to thump his header home.
Vokes latched onto a Trippier cross only to see his volley turned wide but with a quarter of the game still to play Burnley increased their lead even further. Austin picked up the ball from a Grant goal kick and flicked it on to Wallace who found Trippier. Trippier crossed the ball for Austin to head against the post. The loose ball though fell to Mills to slot home and make it 3-0 Clarets
Burnley then showed their complete dominance in this game by adding a fourth with Wallace thumping home a 25-yard screamer. We looked hungry to score even more as the clock ticked down. A well-worked pass from substitute Alex MacDonald found Vokes but his shot was saved by Brown and then the young Scot almost made it five himself after latching onto the ball following a cross from Lafferty. His impressive volley though failed to hit the target and in the end Burnley had to be content with a 4-0 convincing victory.
Burnley: Grant; Trippier (O'Neill 88), Edgar (Duff 46), Shackell (Long 88), Mills (Lafferty 70); Wallace (MacDonald 73), Marney, McCann (Hewitt 70), Stanislas (Mee 46); Paterson (Vokes 46), Austin (Porter 88). Subs: Ings, Stewart.
Attendance: 1,082 (285 Burnley)