Date:Monday September 21 2009
Saturday 19th September 2009 @12:45pm Kick Off
The Clarets returned to winning ways this Saturday after beating Sunderland 3-1 at Turf Moor. The victory ensured we kept up our 100% home record in the Premier League having won all our three opening matches. We are the first of the promoted sides to the top flight to do this since 1992 when local rivals Blackburn Rovers won their first three games at home after beating Arsenal, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest. Burnley will beat that record if we win our next home game against Birmingham City on Saturday 3rd October. In 1992 Blackburn fell to Everton 3-2 at home in their fourth home League game.
The fact we came away with three points on Saturday is down to a couple of inspired substitutions by Owen Coyle in the second half around the hour mark. We had been struggling in all honesty against a vibrant Sunderland side and had been outplayed in the first half despite going into the break at 1-1. Darren Bent had beaten the offside trap after 39 minutes to equalise after Alexander had scored from the spot on 13 minutes. The second half seemed to be going the same way with Sunderland looking the most likely to take the lead. Paterson was doing a lot of running around but getting few chances to threaten the goal and Fletcher playing a wider role was also ineffective and not getting enough service. All that changed when first Nugent replaced Pato on 57 minutes followed a few minutes later with Eagles coming on to replace Fletcher.
The game instantly livened up for the Clarets and we soon took the lead again when a glorious header by Nugent flew into the net. Nugent had scored just three goals in the League for Portsmouth in two years at the club so scoring on his home League debut for the Clarets was just the tonic he needed and his delight in scoring was plain for all to see. It was however to get even better for the former Bury and Preston striker. In the 86th minute, a pass by Tyrone Mears found Nugent under pressure with two defenders on his back. He turned both of them sending them the wrong way to let rip with a sweet left-footed shot that sailed into the top corner of the net to secure a 3-1 victory for the Clarets. He must surely have done enough now to secure a place in the starting eleven with Martin Paterson looking the most likely to be replaced.
Turf Moor really is a Fortress these days and in fact we have now won nine consecutive games at home. This latest victory sees us in 9th place in the Premier League on 9 points. I would not have expected many Clarets fans at the start of the season to have predicted that and if anyone had suggested that after six games we would have the same number of points as Arsenal you would have heard the laughter in all the pubs around Burnley (for that matter all the pubs in England)
The Clarets yesterday only had one player still out with injury, captain Steven Caldwell (groin) and we had no suspensions. Competition for places is high at the moment so there was no place in the eighteen for Michael Duff. The defender had been out for sometime recovering from an ankle injury picked up during the pre-season US tour but was now fully fit and eager to get back into contention. Tyrone Mears though appears to have made the right back position his own and there is plenty of competition in the centre of defence with Andre Bikey and Clarke Carlisle looking solid in the back four with our captain waiting in the wings.
After successive heavy defeats on the road albeit against Chelsea and Liverpool in our last two games, many Clarets fans were wondering whether Coyle would be tempted to change the team after putting out the same starting eleven for the last four matches. In predictable fashion though he decided to remain loyal and gave the same players the chance to shine against a lower quality side. No disrespect to Sunderland, but that is the only way you can describe them after having just played Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool in our last four matches! To be fair to the Black Cats though they have had a good start to the season and until this match were in 7th place on 9 points. We would need to be on our guard therefore and not be too complacent after defeating Manchester United and Everton in our last two home games.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Fletcher, Paterson
Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Guerrero, Nugent, Thompson
Sunderland gaffer, Steve Bruce decided to keep faith with Fraizer Campbell up front with Darren Bent with Kenwyne Jones having to be content with a place on the bench. Clarets fans will also remember our former loan Phil Bardsley who lined up for Sunderland at right back. He signed from Manchester United in January 2008.
St Helens referee, Chris Foy got the game underway in front of another massive crowd with Sunderland having sold out their ticket allocation and the Clarets fans once more packing the stands to the rafters and in full voice.
It was the Black Cats though who started the brighter. Chris McCann did well to stop Darren Bent picking up the ball after Reid passed it into the penalty area.
A few minutes later though and the Clarets had their first decent chance. Steven Fletcher turned well to shoot just over the bar but on 13 minutes we took the lead.
Alexander found Elliott with a sweet pass and he managed to get past Sunderland defender, Anton Ferdinand before being challenged unfairly from behind in the penalty area by the former West Ham centre back. It was probably an unnecessary challenge with Elliott running towards the byline and the angle getting tighter but the referee had no choice but to award a penalty for the blatant foul.
Penalty king, Graham Alexander duly placed the ball on the spot and hit the ball straight down the middle and into the net. Probably not one his best penalties and we were fortunate the keeper, Craig Gordon decided to move otherwise the ball would have hit him in the chest and he would probably have saved it. No matter the Clarets were 1-0 up.
Alexander nearly set up Paterson for a second goal shortly after, but Pato turning to volley the ball did not get the right purchase and the score remained 1-0.
Sunderland though were now looking the stronger side and continued to put the Clarets under pressure as they sought a deserved equaiser. Burnley could not take advantage with both Paterson and Fletcher chasing shadows up front and not getting enough service with the Clarets now defending deep and unable to break out of defence.
The defence had leaked seven goals in our last two games away to Chelsea and Liverpool and at times we again looked naive and error prone. Bikey made an uncharacteristic error with Bent pouncing on the mistake but thankfully The Beast blocked his attempt to score.
Coyle was then forced into making his first substitution of the game on the half-hour mark after Chris McCann twisted his knee following a strong tackle by Michael Turner. Gudjonsson came on with McCann now limping towards the tunnel and things were about to get worse for the Clarets.
Six minutes before the break, Sunderland were level with questions once more being asked about the defence. Reid running with the ball should have been challenged but he was allowed to continue eventually passing to Bent in acres of space with the offside trap dismally failing. Bent had plenty of time to compose himself before shooting past Jensen to make it 1-1. This was the first goal we had conceded at home in over 12 hours of play but there could be no complaints after Sunderland`s possession and determination to equalise.
So 1-1 it was at half-time and we would have to do a lot better in the second half if we were to win this one.
Owen Coyle made no changes for the start of the second half and for a time the match seemed to be following a familiar story with Sunderland once more looking the most dangerous. Burnley just seemed to be having a lacklustre game although Bikey came close with a diving header from a Blake free kick in the opening few minutes but just couldn`t make enough contact.
Sunderland nearly took the lead in the 52nd minute after a volley from Campbell but Jensen pulled off a save to deny the former Manchester United striker.
Coyle in typical fashion decided to change things around on the hour mark first bringing on David Nugent after 57 minutes with Paterson going off. Seven minutes later, Eagles came on to replace Fletcher and what inspired substitutions these would be as a remarkable transformation took place with the Clarets now looking far more positive and stringing together some delightful attacks. One of these would now lead to our second goal.
On 67 minutes, Eagles linked superbly well with Nugent on the break before the ball was passed out wide to Elliott. His cross found Nugent whose powerful header sailed into the net to put the Clarets 2-1 up.
There was now a buzz in Burnley`s play with Sunderland the team now looking shell-shocked.
With four minutes to go we put the game beyond the reach of the Black Cats and what a superb goal it was too. On the break Elliott found Mears and he passed to Nugent. He looked to still have a lot of work to do with Turner and Cana on his back. Nugent coolly turned both of them though and sent them the wrong way giving him the chance to let rip with a left footed shot. The stunning shot sailed into the top corner of the net. The 24 year old was clearly delighted by his brace and it seemed the whole sorry saga at Pompey had finally been lifted off his back.
It was an excellent victory in the end, giving hope to all Clarets fans that our home form could see us safely survive our first season in the Premier League. Clarets fans though will be keen to see our League away form improve now since we have yet to score a goal let alone get a point on the road this season. With David Nugent now on board and in good form hopefully that will all change starting with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane next Saturday.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Fletcher (Eagles 64mins), McCann (Gudjonsson 28), Elliott, Blake, Paterson (Nugent 57mins).
Subs Not Used: Penny, McDonald, Thompson, Guerrero.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Turner, Ferdinand, McCartney, Malbranque (Jones 62mins), Cana, Richardson, Reid, Bent, Campbell.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Da Silva, Mensah, Nosworthy, Henderson, Healy.
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)
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Date:Monday September 21 2009
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