No Hiding Place for Clarets Fans in East Lancs
Sunday 18th October 2009 @1pm Kick Off
All Clarets fans will be having to run the gauntlet of gloating Blackburn Rovers fans at work and online today and may have to do so now until March following our 3-2 defeat at Ewood Park yesterday. Let`s run it with pride, 27th March will soon be here and the return match at Fortress Turf Moor will I am sure redress the balance.
The defeat as much as it hurts still keeps us above Rovers and we remain in 10th spot with two consecutive home games to come against Wigan and lowly Hull City. It is critical we maintain our form at Turf Moor and get another valuable six points from these two games against sides below us in the League. Our primary aim this season is of course to survive in the top flight but most Clarets fans will also be delighted to finish above Rovers no matter what happens. Rovers face two tough games away next against Chelsea and Manchester United, so it is not inconceivable that by the end of October we could be eight points clear of Rovers which would go some way to wiping the smugness off the faces of that lot down the M65.
Sadly for the Clarets far too many of our players chose to have an off-day at Ewood Park yesterday, most notably Brian Jensen who will quickly want to forget the nightmare of his 250th appearance for Burnley.
It all looked to be going so well when Robbie Blake scored a stunning goal after just five minutes of play but there then followed what I can only describe as the worst performance I have seen the Clarets put in this season and that is saying something after the away tonkings at Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs. We just did not gel in any department; Jensen started flapping about and when he did make a decision, made the wrong one. The back four looked error prone and intimidated by the strong, tall physical presence of the Rovers strike force. The midfield, especially Alexander looked naive and ineffective as pass after pass went astray and as for the attack, the only time I remember seeing Nugent was when he was coming off to be replaced by Thompson after 72 minutes. Fletcher was not much better and the only bright spot for the Clarets was the performance of Chris Eagles who replaced him after 59 minutes of play by which time we were already 3-1 down after goals by Dunn, Di Santo and Chimbonda in the first half.
Eagles looked up for this match and seemed to be one of the few to play with some pride, passion and determination. It was no surprise when he scored late on in added time to give the Rovers a nervous anxious last two minutes to hold on. In the end we did not do too badly in the second half and restored some pride effectively winning the half 1-0 but in no way could we recover enough from the mauling handed out by Rovers in the first half.
On the day and it pains me to say it, but we were beaten by the better team and we don`t really have any excuses despite the best efforts of Owen Coyle to dispute the critical Rovers second goal.
Coyle`s positivity is commendable but not many Clarets fans this morning having to put up with the nauseating, cheesy grins of the bar stewards will be agreeing too much with these sentiments:
'I feel we were unlucky. We started terrifically and scored a great goal. I think we offered enough to get a positive result. We carried the fight in the second half and had numerous chances, even in the last few minutes. We played some terrific football and there are an awful lot of positives to take from the match. We'll look to bounce back quickly.'
The only positives i can take from this game is that at long last we have scored our first goal on the road and then doubled it for good measure whilst avoiding a tonking that looked possible after our awful first half performance. I did hear that they are changing the Ides of March from the 15th to the 27th in Burnley next year so all Rovers fans better beware!
I suppose I better now run through the match in more detail, which is not easy when you lose against this lot, especially when you know you are capable of playing much better.
Very much as expected, the Clarets chose the same eighteen as per our previous match against Birmingham City at Turf Moor two weeks ago:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Bikey, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher, Nugent
Subs: Penny, Duff, Kalvenes, McDonald, Eagles, Gudjonsson, Thompson.
St Helens referee, Chris Foy was given the onerous task of being in charge of this pot-boiler and I have to say he handled the occasion very well being very fair although Coyle might take issue with him over their second goal.
With the game underway, it was the Clarets who started the brighter and they took an early lead on the break after just five minutes. Rovers were attempting to put the Clarets defence under pressure from one of their tiresome long throws (for heaven`s sake give Pedersen a non-slippy ball, so he doesn`t take ages sitting on the fence, wiping the blessed thing with his shirt!). This time though the Clarets defence easily coped with the threat and set up their own counter-attack with Bikey breaking free on a charge. Bikey picked out Elliott with a delightful pass and he in turn found Blake cutting in from the left. Blake running at the Rovers defence saw the gap he was looking for and let rip from 25 yards out. His right-footed shot gave Robinson no chance and at long last the Clarets had scored their first away goal!
If only we could now keep calm and consolidate, if only, if only but it wasn`t to be and four minutes later Rovers were level. The danger started down the left wing and this time a Pederson cross found Di Santo who set up Dunn to thump a low shot past Jensen.
The Clarets then simply lost their way for the rest of the half and I don`t recall Robinson being given anything to do with Nugent and Fletcher chasing shadows and the midfield seeming incapable of stringing together any telling passes.
Diouf should have given Rovers the lead but thankfully wasted his shot but it was only a matter of time before the Clarets fell behind with Rovers taking the upper hand although they did so in controversial circumstances.
The game was just 20 minutes old when the Clarets thought they should have got been given a free kick after Carlisle was clearly fouled, instead play continued with Rovers eventually being given a free kick of their own.
Dunn took the free-kick putting the ball over to the far post with Samba heading it back into the mix. Di Santo appeared to push Jordan into Jensen as he tried to catch the ball. 'The Beast` failed to gather the ball and Alexander should have done better to clear the danger but instead headed the ball up. There was a grateful Di Santo and the Chelsea loan striker simply nodded home into an empty net to put Rovers 2-1 up after 21 minutes.
The decision to let the goal stand clearly upset Owen Coyle who said after the game:
'I suppose you always pick the bones out of any goal and for the second I was convinced Di Santo leaned into Stephen and did enough to put Brian off. It was my initial reaction and nothing will convince me otherwise. It was a comfortable ball for Brian to deal with and the only way he couldn't is if he was knocked off. I know people will say it was only a nudge, but when you are off balance it affects you. I am not going to sit here and blame referees though. I spoke to the referee Chris Foy at the end of the game and I know it's a difficult task. I just felt a large percentage of those marginal decisions all went against us. They say things balance themselves out and if that's the case then I'm due a few at the back end of this season!"
In a rare Burnley attack in the first half, Caldwell nearly equalised soon after Rovers second goal. He got on the end of a Blake free-kick but put his header just wide and sadly for the Clarets we now reverted to looking like startled rabbits in the headlights as Rovers took advantage to score again with just three minutes of the half remaining. Not for the first time we were stretched at the back and this time it was Andrews who found Pederson on the opposite flank and he knocked the ball down to Chimbonda who flew past Fletcher to shoot past Jensen.
There was just time in the first-half for the invisible Fletcher to suddenly materialise and try and restore some pride with Robinson at long last given something to do. The England keeper though saved Fletcher`s long range shot and that was it 3-1 Rovers at half-time with the Clarets already looking a defeated team.
After a promising start for the Clarets, the game had turned into disasterville and all Clarets fans at half-time were fearing the worst with yet another possible tonking away from home on the cards. We would just not be able to hold our heads up if that happened against Rovers of all teams and something drastic would have to happen in the second half if we were to salvage any pride. If we continued to play the way we had in the first 45 minutes, this match really would get more and more embarrassing. Things could only get better and thankfully they did but not enough to earn any bragging rights.
In traditional fashion, although maybe surprisingly considering how poorly we had played in the first-half, Coyle made no changes for the start of the second half leaving all Clarets fans wondering if Nugent might get a kick of the ball at some point.
A much brighter looking Clarets side came close to making it 'game-on` just four minutes into the second half when Fletcher suddenly burst into life again after some nice build-up play but the score remained 3-1. At long last, Coyle decided to change things round a bit and it was the lacklustre Fletcher who was the first to be replaced with Chris Eagles coming on to replace him after 59 minutes. The decision was perhaps surprising considering the fact that Fletcher at least had made some attempt on goal unlike Nugent but now at least the game livened up with Eagles immediately giving the Clarets some hope after running into the heart of the Rovers defence to set-up another shooting opportunity for Blake. Rovers averted the danger but from the resulting corner taken by Blake, Caldwell should perhaps have done better with his header but once again Rovers could sigh with relief.
The Clarets now seemed to be getting more and more into the game boosted by the lively looking Eagles but we always looked vulnerable on the break and some significant improvements in the back four performances are going to be required on the road this season. Wade Elliott though was now also looking more of a threat with Rovers at long last looking less comfortable with Big Sam clearly becoming frustrated in the technical area.
If only we could have got that second goal earlier in the second-half we might have got something from this match and we had plenty of opportunity in the last few minutes of this game. Andrews had to block a shot from Alexander before the impressive Eagles brought out a save from Robinson.
There was one final sting in the tail though with the Clarets restoring some pride by getting a late goal in added time, giving Rovers fans a nervy final couple of minutes. Jordan in the 92nd minute got in a low cross and it was fitting that Chris Eagles got on the end of it to make the score 3-2. In the dying seconds, Samba saved the blushes of the Rovers fans by getting in the way of an Elliott shot and that was it we had come back from the dead slightly and refused to be buried. We are however badly wounded and they will take five months to heal before we get the chance again to beat this lot for the first time in over 30 years!
Yes, we Clarets fans now have to put on a brave face and put up with the guffaws and smug comments from the fans of the most hated team in the land but come on, let`s cheer up, this is just one battle in a long history of battles and the war has not yet been won.
Let`s just remember one thing; we are now playing Rovers on a level playing field on equal terms in the top flight at long last. We have also got to the Premier League based on courage, quality, teamwork and determination and we have not achieved success and promotion simply by buying it unlike one team I can mention. The days of Jack Walker are over and Blackburn are now in the mix with the rest of us, yes indeed March will come soon enough and all Clarets can hardly wait.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Bikey (McDonald 78), Elliott, Fletcher (Eagles 59), Blake, Nugent (Thompson 72).
Subs Not Used: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, Gudjonsson.
Blackburn: Robinson, Jacobsen, Samba, Nelsen, Dunn, Gamst Pedersen, Nzonzi, Andrews, Diouf (Emerton 81), Di Santo (Roberts 75), Chimbonda.
Subs Not Used: Givet, McCarthy, Hoilett, Salgado.
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)
One person we should have in the starting eleven in my opinion now is Chris Eagles, what does he have to do to get a start? He was one of the few who seemed up for this game and is our Star Player; but for him livening up proceedings in the second half, we could be nursing even bigger wounds this morning.