Blake`s Beauty & The Beast
28th October 2008 @7:45pm
The Clarets survived all the pressure handed out by Reading last night as Brian Jensen saves the day with five spectacular saves to deny the Royals any goals after they hit the woodwork three times.
But at the other end, substitute Robbie Blake scored a beauty of a goal after 81 minutes to give the Clarets a 1-0 victory and propel the Clarets up the table to 5th just two points behind placed club Cardiff and one behind their opponents of last night, Reading.
It has been sometime since the Clarets beat Reading at Turf Moor, in fact to the 3-0 victory back in November 2003 so this was a particular pleasing result especially also having lost at the hands of Reading recently 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium, our only defeat now in the last 14 matches. Revenge is sweet but we certainly had to battle for this victory and it`s a credit to the Clarets that we held firm and soaked up all the pressure. The result sets up nicely for another home game against lowly placed Norwich this Saturday and maybe, just maybe we can now consolidate our position and maintain a Top 6 place as we push for the play-offs and maybe even automatic promotion.
The omens however didn`t auger well for the start of this game with the grim news that both Michael Duff and Clarke Carlisle would not make the sixteen due to illness and injury. At least our back four situation didn`t become super-critical with the news that Steven Caldwell was proclaimed fit. The necessary changes though did mean we had to abandon our preferred 4-1-4-1 formation and revert to 4-4-2, a line-up we haven`t played for sometime. With no holding midfielder role, Graham Alexander took up the right back position with Jordan and Caldwell in the centre and Kalvenes at left back. Chris McCann appeared to play a deeper midfield role and the good news was that at long last Chris Eagles got a starting eleven place.
There was also a welcome return for Kevin McDonald who was named on the bench.
The full Clarets line-up was as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Jordan, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott, McCann, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Van der Schaaf, Blake, McDonald, Rodriguez.
Reading also chose a 4-4-2 formation and decided not to have a reserve keeper on the bench.
The changes for the Clarets though would mean that the new back four would need to settle quickly as the whole team tried to get used to a new formation. Not an ideal situation when the team opposite you were high flying Reading with the best goal difference in the League and scoring for fun.
The referee for this match was Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire). His last Clarets match in charge was against Leicester at Turf Moor last season, an uneventful game that finished 1-1.
As the match got underway, on an icy, bitterly cold evening at Turf Moor both teams would have to warm up quickly and for a time it looked like the Royals were taking that initiative with some early Reading pressure.
Jensen had to make a double save after just nine minutes of play denying firstly Jimmy Kebe and then Noel Hunt. After 17 minutes, the Clarets rode their luck once more after a Kevin Doyle shot came back off the post.
Reading were by now having the bulk of the possession and seemed to winning all the loose balls but at long last it was the Clarets turn to pile on the pressure.
On 26 minutes, there was a melee in Reading`s six yard box with both Paterson and then Thompson finding their shots blocked. Eagles seemed to get the last touch but the ball refused to cross the line. However the incident raised Clarets hopes after one way traffic the other way and the game opened up into end to end stuff.
Kebe advanced into the box before unleashing a shot. Jensen though was alert to the danger and made another great save at the right hand post.
A weak Thompson header was wide of the Royals goal with McCann looking the better option behind him.
Jensen earned his stripes again after 38 minutes denying Stephen Hunt after rushing back to tip the ball over the bar but the Clarets were not finished yet and just seconds later, a pass by Gudjonsson into the box found Paterson but his shot was not hard enough to fool Hahnemann.
Chris Eagles continued to impress giving Rosenior a torrid time but the Clarets breakthrough proved elusive as the referee blew for half-time. The Clarets had withstood all the Reading pressure and were now coming back into the game so hopefully that trend could continue in the second half.
The Clarets made no changes for the start of the second half but again it was Reading who were first out of the blocks. The Royals claimed a penalty soon after the start after Elliott appeared to foul Armstrong in the box but much to the relief of Clarets fans, the referee waved away appeals.
The Clarets were now totally under the cosh.
Rosenior let rip after 50 minutes but his shot from a corner was wide of Jensen's goal.
Robbie Blake replaced a dejected looking Paterson after 58 minutes as the Clarets hung on despite a spate of corners and free kicks were awarded to the Royals
Jensen then made his best save so far in the game on 60 minutes after Bikey`s strong header was somehow tipped onto the post
Burnley could thank the woodwork again on 62 minutes after a Clarets defender got a deflection from a free kick and Jensen then saved the day again three minutes later getting to another deflection, this time from Jordan and tipping the ball around the post after changing direction.
More injury concerns for the Clarets in the back four after 72 minutes when Kalvenes limped off the pitch with a leg injury. Rodriguez looked to be coming on just before the injury to Kalvenes but Coyle now had to rethink his strategy. Chris McCann therefore took up position in the centre of defence and on came Kevin McDonald in midfield. Jordan moved to left back. The changes though did not seem to have too much of a detrimental effect on the Clarets concentration
Rodriguez finally got his chance coming on for Thompson after 78 minutes and three minutes later we were ahead after spending most of the half with our backs against the wall.
Robbie Blake took a return ball from Elliott and cut inside unleashing a left foot shot that gave the Royals keeper no chance as the ball flew into the bottom corner. Jubilant Clarets fans went wild in celebration as once more they were treated to the red pants of Blake!
We nearly had to glimpse them again in the final minute of the game, but this time Blake`s left foot shot hit the side-netting.
That was the last action of the match though as the final whistle went
Revenge is certainly sweet and how comforting for Clarets fans once more to see their side in the Top 6 occupying the 5th place spot.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Jordan, Kalvenes (McDonald 71), Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Eagles, Paterson (Blake 58), Thompson (Rodriguez 78).
Subs Not Used: Penny, Van der Schaaf.
Goals: Blake 81.
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Armstrong, Kebe, Cisse, Harper, Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt.
Subs Not Used: Andersen, Matejovsky, Karacan, Long, Pearce.
Ref: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire).