Clarets are not Carrowing!
5th April 2008 @3pm KO
Another disappointing defeat on the road saw the Clarets go down 2-0 against Norwich at Carrow Road yesterday thanks to a goal at the very start and at the very end of the match by Dion Dublin and Ched Evans respectively.
This must surely kill off all hope of reaching the play-offs although to be honest the other results also went our way and it`s still mathematically possible to finish in the 6th place spot but it`s going to take a miracle and involves winning our last four games of the season against Sheffield United (H), Southampton (A), Cardiff (H) and Crystal Palace (A).
We are currently in 11th spot on 58 points, still only three points behind Wolves in 6th but having played now two games more and with a negative goal difference of minus two goals. The only negative goal difference of all the sides in the Top 13 clubs! You can see why we need more than a miracle and to most Clarets fans; it`s already season over and has been for the last few matches.
The manner of this defeat is the real cause for concern though. We should be raising our game motivated by the chance of reaching the play-offs. We haven`t really done that at all this year and yesterday was again another lacklustre performance falling to an awful killer blow in the first minute with questions once again being asked of the defence.
Owen Coyle decided to stick with the starting eleven that battled in last week`s downpour at Turf Moor to defeat today`s FA Cup Semi-finalists, Barnsley 2-1. This meant another central striking role for Lafferty in a 4-3-3 formation with Blake and Elliott supporting Lafferty on the flanks. Clarke Carlisle of course was sidelined for this match sitting out the second of his three match ban after being sent off in the match away to Preston.
Michael Duff missed out and was not even named on the bench despite being declared fit to play after a long term cruciate ligament injury.
We lined up therefore as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, O'Connor, Gudjonsson, McCann, Elliott, Lafferty, Blake.
Subs: Kiraly, Randall, Akinbiyi, Cole, Mahon
Norwich had their loan from Derby and former Claret player, Mo Camara on the bench although Norwich gaffer and our former assistant manager during Waddle`s reign, Glenn Roeder chose not to play him in this match.
It was Nottinghamshire referee, Russell J Booth who got the match underway and it didn`t take long for Clarets fans hearts to sink.
Jamie Cureton beat the offside trap and crossed only for Caldwell to half-clear the ball away. A gift for Huckerby, who pounced on the ball, took it to the by-line and then crossed with pin-point accuracy to 38-year old Dion Dublin.
Dublin scored from only about three yards out in acres of space totally unmarked. There was barely 60 seconds on the clock and again our defence was woeful giving Norwich exactly what we couldn`t afford to give. There might have been a suspicion of offside but the manner in which they scored still doesn`t excuse the poor defensive marking and their inability to clear the ball away properly. A trait that has happened all too often this season and something that Coyle needs to address in the close season.
The Canaries tails were up now and putting the Clarets under considerable pressure as they sought to double their lead.
Alexander headed away a Huckerby cross over his own crossbar as the pressure from the home side continued.
It was a full eleven minutes into the game before the Clarets first mounted a decent attack, Lafferty found some space to shoot but it went straight towards Canaries keeper, David Marshall and didn`t cause much danger.
Brian Jensen denied Darel Russell by bravely diving into a melee of feet on 15 minutes. He picked up a head wound during the incident and had to change his blood-stained shirt whilst receiving treatment.
Jensen continued with his head plastered with Vaseline and was relieved to see Russell miss-kick his shot after 19 minutes following a neat flick by Dublin.
On 30 minutes Gudjonsson let rip with one of his typical 30-yard shots only for Marshall to pull off a great save.
It was the athletic Marshall who then had to race from his goal to deny Elliott after a superb Gudjonsson pass had found the right winger.
Robbie Blake with only four minutes of the half remaining then pounced on a slip by John Otsemobor and ran towards goal before picking out Lafferty. His first time shot though hit the side netting and that was the final action of the first half. Owen Coyle would have some thinking to do in the dressing room as the Clarets marched off for a dressing down (at least I hope that`s what they got!)
The Clarets started the second half without making any team changes although the formation was now 4-4-2 with Blake and Lafferty partners up front.
After 53 minutes, it was nearly game over but Cureton made a hash of his shot after Matty Pattison had shown the defensive weakness of Jon Harley and crossed from the by-line.
Coyle decided to change things round on 58 minutes with Andrew Cole coming on to replace the lacklustre McCann but it was Norwich who continued the pressure. Headers from Cureton and Shackell should have been better but both sailed over the bar.
The Clarets however then came close to getting an equaliser against the run of play. Marshall though managed to turn Lafferty`s shot round the post after being put clear by Elliott.
Further changes by the Clarets gaffer saw Mahon replace Gudjonsson on 69 minutes and Akinbiyi come on for Blake after 77 minutes although the changes did not have the desired radical effect even though we now had a three-prong attack in the middle with Cole, Akinbiyi and Lafferty trying to get something out of the game.
As if to rub salt in the wounds and destroy our positive attacking attempts to get something from the game, in the final minute Norwich got another goal. Ched Evans made it a bleak day for Clarets fans in East Anglia. Evans scored from 12 yards out after some good understanding with Huckerby and Norwich came out worthy winners 2-0 easing their relegation fears whilst probably destroying out play-offs hopes.
Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Pearce, Bertrand, Huckerby, Russell, Fotheringham, Pattison, Dublin (Doherty 89), Cureton (Evans 66).
Subs Not Used: Croft, Camara, Gibbs.
Goals: Dublin 2, Evans 90.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, James O'Connor, Gudjonsson (Mahon 69), McCann (Cole 58), Lafferty, Blake (Akinbiyi 77).
Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Randall.
Booked: Harley, Alexander, Blake, Elliott.
Ref: Russell Booth (Nottinghamshire).