Eagles 2, Canaries 0
1st November 2008 @ 3pm KO
Eagles swooped to knock the Canaries off their perch yesterday in an emphatic Clarets 2-0 win at Turf Moor. A brace of goals by the preying Chris Eagles in the second half were enough to secure an easy victory. The Clarets dominance was so great, it could easily have been 3-0 at half-time and a rugby score by the end but Clarets fans had to be content with just the two, and we were!
In an amazing first half, the Clarets attacked and attacked and somehow the score line remained 0-0 but it was only a matter of time before the home side made the pressure count in the second half. There were some occasional glimpses of the away side putting us under pressure, but we never really looked like dropping any points in this match and a five minute spell just before the hour mark sealed the Canaries fate with Eagles doing all the hard work to score two superb goals.
The victory keeps the Clarets in the Top 6 and we are now 4th on 26 points just four points behind second place, Birmingham and 8 points behind League leaders, Wolves, the team we play next at Molineux on Saturday 8th November. What a cracking game that promises to be!
The good news too is that slowly but surely we seem to be pulling away from a number of mid-table teams and even if we lose against Wolves this Saturday we will still remain in the Top 6.
Under normal circumstances, the Clarets would not have been concerned too much about playing a team at home struggling in the bottom half of the table. Norwich were 18th going into this match and Glen Roeder`s men had only won one game away all season.
After tough home matches against Birmingham and Reading in our last two games at Turf Moor, in which we picked up four points out of a maximum of six, a home tie against the Canaries looked on paper to be relatively easy. We had after all now lost only once in 14 matches!
News however leading up to this match that we could struggle to select a back four due to injuries and illness to Kalvenes, Carlisle, Caldwell and Duff began to set off the alarm bells but in hindsight Clarets fans need not have worried and one wonders how much of the crisis scenario was a bit of kidology to give the Canaries a false sense of security!
Duff, suffering from the lurgy was named on the bench and was probably not fully fit and only Kalvenes out with an injured thigh and ankle did not make it with Caldwell and Carlisle being declared fit enough to play. However, this did mean that once more we would have to play 4-4-2 with only Alexander and Jordan available in defence.
Robbie Blake had to be sent home and missed training in midweek after picking up the same bug that laid low Michael Duff but he came through the ordeal to be selected in the starting eleven for the first time since the Preston match.
If you had missed the announcements of the teams (like I had!), it might have taken you some time to realise (like I did!) who was missing. Good god, Martin Paterson was on the bench! Up until this game he had a 100% record in the starting eleven but after Robbie`s recent performances, Coyle probably had no option but to find Blake a place (either that or the club were hoping Blake would score , flash his red knickers and further boost sales of the 'Bad Beat Bob` underpants on sale via the Club Shop. Call me a cynic why don`t you. Even Bertie Bee is wearing 'em and flashing 'em now!!!)
Anyway, the full line up was follows and things could have been a lot worse had the defence crisis hype materialised:
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Blake, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Paterson, Rodriguez
The infamous, Graham Laws from Tyne & Wear was the referee in charge of this game as the match got underway.
It was the Canaries who started brightly though when Darrell Russell who was linked with a move to Turf Moor in the Summer, fired wide much to the relief of the Clarets still trying to find their feet.
By the end of the first five minutes though the Clarets were well into their stride after two well-worked attempts on goal were snuffed out by Canaries defender, Gary Doherty.
Maybe Steve Thompson is trying too hard, but in the first half he could have had a panful of goals himself. Robbie Blake got in a perfect through ball to the striker but after beating the offside trap could only see his powerful shot come off the post.
It was Blake again on nine minutes who this time found Carlisle after a superb run. Somehow, Norwich keeper David Marshall managed to save not once but twice from Carlisle to clear the ball off the line.
By now the Clarets were dominating play and looked certain to score soon.
Wade Elliott got in a shot after 21 minutes with the Canaries defence looking ragged but it was deflected to safety.
Blake again linked well with Thompson on 29 minutes but this time the luckless striker headed the ball over the bar.
Norwich showed the odd glimpse of their attacking potential and Lee Croft looked dangerous after bombing down the wing and cutting inside after 35 minutes. Carlisle however had sensed the danger and was on hand to get the ball away for a corner. The Canaries nearly scored as the corner came over but John Kennedy thankfully headed over.
Thompson then missed probably the best chance of the game so far and somehow blasted the ball over the bar on 37 minutes after the industrious Eagles got in a shot that flew through the legs of keeper, Marshall with the ball spinning out wide to the Scottish striker.
Not for the only time in this match, a misunderstanding between Jensen and Jordan nearly let in Norwich with just two minutes of the first half to go. Russell got in between the two but fluffed his chance much to the relief of Clarets fans after such sustained pressure by Burnley at the other end without success.
0-0 at half-time and how the Clarets were not at least 3-0 up by now is still a mystery. No changes at half-time for the Clarets though.
Bell got in a shot that was wide of the target on 47 minutes but 7 minutes later though and the Clarets finally took a well-deserved lead.
Blake had found McCann with some clever play and the midfielder went on a mazy run getting in a neat through pass to Eagles. He made no mistake scoring; slotting the ball through the Canaries keeper`s legs to put the Clarets 1-0 up after 54 minutes, in what seemed an eternity to get the lead.
Four minutes later and Eagles had his brace after Alexander was on the ball taking a quick free kick to find Blake with Norwich sleep-walking. Robbie found Eagles who had run a full 60 yards to slot home from just inside the box.
Credit to Norwich though, they did not fold and could still occasionally look dangerous.
Canaries striker, Leroy Lita on loan from Reading though should have done better on 72 minutes but he put his shot wide without fully testing Jensen. 'The Beast` had little to do all afternoon and poor shooting by Norwich was one of the main reasons.
Paterson finally came on after 78 minutes replacing Blake who left the pitch to a standing ovation
Eagles then nearly got his hat-trick one minute later but for once the Norwich defence seemed alert to the danger and it came to nothing.
Paterson almost scored on 88 minutes, but Marshall got to the striker`s angled shot and tipped the ball over the bar.
No more action and as the final whistle went, the Clarets had another win under their belt to make it now just one defeat in fifteen games. The victory was made even sweeter with news that Preston winning 2-0 against Southampton at half-time had somehow managed to lose 3-2!
Nice to see the Clarets still in the Top Six and now in fourth place. Bring on the Wolves!
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson (McDonald 74), McCann, Eagles, Thompson (Rodriguez 66), Blake (Paterson 78).
Subs Not Used: Penny, Duff.
Booked: Gudjonsson, Thompson, Caldwell.
Goals: Eagles 55, 60.
Norwich: Marshall, Omozusi (Otsemobor 62), Kennedy, Doherty, Drury, Bell, Clingan, Fotheringham (Cureton 71), Croft (Pattison 62), Lita, Russell.
Subs Not Used: Bertrand, Nelson.
Ref: Graham Laws (Tyne & Wear).
He picked up the Sponsors Man of the Match Award and there is no question he is also our Star Player.
Special credit though must also go to Robbie Blake. He was the architect of many of the attacks and looked dangerous all through the game, getting a standing ovation from the crowd when he was finally substituted after 78 minutes. Well he didn`t score sadly but at least that meant we were not treated to a glimpse of those red 'Bad Beat Bob 'underpants (strewth are folk really buying them?)