Burnley Defeat Hartlepool The Hard Way
Tuesday 25th August 2009 @7:45pm Kick Off
The Clarets progressed to the third round of the Carling Cup by defeating Hartlepool 2-1 at Victoria Park last night but they left it late. A first half goal for the Pools by Adam Boyd looked to have been enough for the League One side with Burnley struggling to find their form in a lacklustre performance. Three substitutions about the hour mark though by Owen Coyle slowly began to change the course of the game with Blake, Fletcher and Paterson becoming a handful for the home side. A goal by Fletcher six minutes from time, his first for the club in a competitive game, set up a thrilling end to an otherwise dull scrappy game. The equaliser ensured extra time would have to be played, probably something both sides would have preferred to have avoided especially the Clarets who have a tough game at Chelsea this Saturday and need a full strength, fully fit team firing on all cylinders. In the 100th minute Burnley suddenly found themselves down to ten men after a bizarre sending off by referee, Jon Moss. There is still debate as to why Eckersley was given his marching orders, some say it was for a straight red for a professional foul whilst others thought he had earlier picked up a yellow card and got a second for a minor infringement. The decision looked harsh either way and perhaps the Clarets are lucky that the young Manchester United defender was not probably in Coyle`s plans for the Premier League games coming up.
The Clarets were now down to ten men and at the time McDonald looked to be struggling with an injury and the fear was we could soon be down to nine men having used all our substitutes. Hartlepool`s spirits were raised for a time and they once more tried to press their advantage but in the end even our ten men were just too strong for them and in the 107th minute we made the pressure count by taking the lead after Fletcher scored from a close range header to make it a brace on the night. Despite some late pressure by Hartlepool, the Clarets held on to win 2-1 and progress to the next round.
Before this match started, it was clear that Owen Coyle was going to make some changes to the team that defeated Manchester United and Everton at Turf Moor in their two previous games. He wanted to give some of his fringe players the chance to shine against lower league opposition and begin to stake a claim for the first team. Diego Penny would make his first appearance for the Clarets in goal since the opener last season away to Sheffield Wednesday and there would also be full first team debuts for Fernando Guerrero, Brian Easton , David Edgar and Richard Eckersley.
In fact the gaffer finished up making ten changes against Hartlepool with only Andre Bikey still in the starting eleven presumably because Coyle was keen to give him more games after a recent five match ban for that infamous sending off and tantrum at Turf Moor whilst playing for Reading in the Play-Offs Semi-Final first leg at the end of last season. Only two players in the squad were out of contention. Steven Caldwell was still sidelined with a groin injury but there was some good news for Michael Duff. He was playing for Burnley Reserves in their away game against Everton last night so looks close to a return to the first team.
The full line up last night at Victoria Park was follows:
Burnley: Penny, Eckersley, Bikey, Edgar, Easton, Guererro, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Eagles. Rodriguez, Thompson.
Subs: Jensen, Blake, Alexander, Jordan, Elliott, Paterson, Fletcher
With Alexander on the bench, they lined up 4-4-2 with Rodriguez partnering Thompson up front.
Hartlepool had lost six of their last seven games at Victoria Park whilst Burnley did not have a good record on the ground. In 10 previous visits the Clarets had lost 5 and only managed one win and that was in the Associate Members competition back in December 1996 when they secured a 2-0 victory. Hartlepool also beat Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor in the Carling Cup a few seasons back so the Clarets would be hoping for payback time against a side with a good cup record against Premier League and Championship sides. Something therefore would have to give!
A tremendous following for a midweek cup match of 621 Clarets fans had made the journey to the North East and expectations were high after a blistering start in the Premier League.
The Clarets were quickly out of the blocks and had their first chance after just 90 seconds. Eagles picked up a pass by Guerrero and steamrolled through the middle before squaring the ball just behind Thompson. Shooting on the turn Thompson could only see his shot blocked and the danger averted. Guerrero then came close himself getting a header on the ball bouncing towards him but it flew just over the far post.
Hartlepool had their first chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute after Penny dived to save a long range effort from Hartley with the ball hitting him in the stomach.
Guererro then shock off two challenges and raced towards goal on 23 minutes and should have perhaps continued forward through the middle to shoot. Instead though he found Rodriguez who thought he had scored after stroking the ball past Pools keeper, Flinders. He was however adjudged to be offside and the goal was scratched off.
The match was now a bit of a scrappy affair but suddenly livened up for the home fans with seven minutes to go as the Clarets got caught out on the break.
A Rodriguez back flick at the near post following a McDonald cross gave Hartlepool the chance to break out of defence. Monkhouse after a nice one-two chipped the ball into the six yard box and with the Clarets defence slow to react, Adam Boyd saw his opportunity and charged forward shooting past Penny to put Hartlepool 1-0 up.
It nearly got more embarrassing for the Clarets in the 43rd minute. Monkhouse looked certain to double the home side`s lead with a drive angled towards goal before Penny falling backwards managed to pull off a great save.
Flinders easily saved from Rodriguez just before the whistle went and that was it for the first half. If truth be known this was a very disappointing performance so far from the Clarets. If it was Coyle`s intentions to give his fringe players the chance to shine, they simply had not done so. True it was a team that had not lined up like this before, but even so more passion and effort could have been on display. Guererro and Eagles just couldn`t seem to get in the game as much as they should have with the wide men failing to deliver often enough to Thompson and Rodriguez up front. Both strikers often seemed isolated. Guerrero in particular looked reluctant to take on defenders and the whole team at this stage looked lacklustre unable to make decisive passes.
Owen Coyle would need to shake them up in the half-time dressing room if we were to stand any chance of progressing further in this competition. If we didn`t it would certainly be an embarrassment after the highs in this competition last season when we reached the semi-final before going down to Spurs in that dramatic second leg at Turf Moor.
Whatever he said though, he was still going to give them all another chance to redeem themselves by making no changes for the start of the second half.
Maybe he should have because once more the match continued in similar fashion with Hartlepool again looking dangerous on the break with the Clarets unable to stamp their authority on the game. You would not think at this stage that we were a Premier League side and all credit to Hartlepool for playing out of their skins. They were certainly more up for it than our struggling players and had thoroughly deserved their lead.
In the 55th minute, Pools nearly extended their lead after a run by Behan down the right. Edgar though cleared the danger by hacking the ball away from the six-yard box.
With the hour mark approaching Coyle had clearly had enough of this frustrating evening for the Clarets so far and decided to bring on some of the big guns to add some spark to our attack.
On came Fletcher and Paterson for the largely ineffective Rodriguez and Thompson followed by Blake for Eagles five minutes later. Blake took up position on the left with Guerrero swopping over to the right and the effect was almost instantaneous. Blake playing a nice one-two with Guerrero tried a thunderous shot from 20 yards out but he pulled it just wide of the post. The writing though was now on the wall for Hartlepool with Blake becoming more and more a handful and a thorn in their side.
With the Clarets now looking the most likely to score next, in the 74th minute, the impressive and lively Paterson got in a half-chance but on the turn put his shot just wide.
Finally though with just six minutes to go the Clarets finally got the equaliser they deserved.
A mazy run from Guerrero who was having a much better half threatened the Hartlepool defence and Eckersley picking up a half-clearance found Blake on the left. He got in a perfect cross to the left side of the area for Fletcher to chest down, bamboozle his marker and thump the ball past a well-beaten Flinders.
Now it was the Clarets in total command as they sought the winner to avoid extra time. McDonald came close but just couldn`t connect as a cross from Guerrero whizzed over.
Just three minutes to go and the ball fell to Guerrero after an anxious Flinders had parried away a powerful shot by Fletcher. The Ecuador International though just couldn`t get the right purchase on the ball to find the target and the home fans could breathe again but it was now their turn to pray for the final whistle as the Clarets kept up the pressure. The Pools fans were even nervier as the referee announced four minutes of added time.
There was just time for a bit of Blake magic with 90 seconds still to play of stoppage time. Playing a nice one-two with Pato, Blake came in from the left towards goal before letting rip with a low shot which flew inches wide skimming the post leaving Flinders thankful for his luck.
So that was it, whether we liked it or not, we now had to play another 30 minutes of extra time as the final whistle blew with the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
It was certainly going to be an eventful period!
This time Hartlepool suddenly found the motivation to put Burnley under pressure again as once more Clarets fans wondered if this was going to be their night or whether indeed that banana skin still had some slippery edges to it.
It took less than 60 seconds of this first period of extra time for Hartlepool to come close to retaking the lead. The Clarets had the woodwork to thank after a thunderous shot by Larkin on the left hit the crossbar. Penny then had to pull off a save from Jones by getting down to the ball at the bottom of his post.
The Clarets had not given up yet though as the now lively game continued from end to end. Flinders had to save from McDonald after his shot from the edge of the box was well taken by the busy keeper.
A bizarre incident in the 100th minute though reduced the Clarets down to ten men with the sending off of Richard Eckersley. Nobody is quite sure why Moss sent the former Manchester United defender off the pitch. There was a scuffle on the left touchline in the centre of the pitch involving Eckersley and one theory is that the referee gave him a second yellow before sending him off. Many though were not aware that Eckersley had previously been booked in the first half after unfairly blocking his man. Some reports suggested Eckersley was given a straight red but either way the confusion didn`t matter he was off.
Thankfully, with McDonald also hobbling at this stage, Hartlepool could not make their advantage count and in the 107th minute of a very long night the Clarets got the second goal they were after.
Paterson chasing to the by-line got in a pin-point accurate cross to find Fletcher who made no mistake with his header from close range. 2-1 Clarets and a brace for the Scottish International!
All credit to Hartlepool though they were not beaten yet and came back at us time and time again.
Bikey had to come to our rescue with Jones looking certain to score after tapping the ball towards an empty net. The strong pacy centre half though got back quickly to clear the ball off the line.
Hartlepool were also awarded a couple of dangerous looking free kicks as the game was drawing to a close. Gudjonsson came off the worst both times getting the ball smack in the face as he twice went crashing to the ground in what seemed like a scene from a farce.
The Clarets held on though and thoroughly deserved their win with the three substitutions in the end making all the difference for Burnley. After a poor dull game for most of the opening 90 minutes the game suddenly came alive with the Clarets equaliser and the extra time incidents. Hartlepool will probably feel hard done by and they certainly gave us a game so respect to the League 1 side.
Hopefully the extra time will not have taken too much out of the Clarets players expected to be selected for our next game in the Premier League on Saturday. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will certainly be a different kettle of fish.
Burnley: Penny, Eckersley, Bikey, Edgar, Easton, Guerrero, McDonald, Gudjonsson (c), Eagles (Blake 65) Rodriguez (Fletcher 61), Thompson (Paterson 61).
Subs: Jensen, Alexander, Jordan, Elliott
Booked: Rodriguez 14, Easton 120
Sent off: Eckersley 100
Hartlepool: Flinders, Haslam, Collins, Liddle, Hartley, McSweeney, Sweeney (Fredriksen 96), Jones, Monkhouse, Behan, Boyd (Larkin 79).
Subs: Cook, Austin, Rowell, Greulich, Power
Booked: Sweeney 23, Collins 45
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)
The game changed for the better when Robbie Blake came on and he weaved his magic every minute he was on the pitch. Both Fletcher and Paterson also added the badly needed firepower up front after coming on from the bench.
We will give our Star Player award to Robbie Blake but it was really Steven Fletcher`s night after scoring his first goal for the Clarets and then getting another to ensure a Burnley victory.
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