Hammer Horror Show with a Late Twist
Upton Park (Boleyn Ground)
Saturday 28th November 2009 @3pm Kick-Off
It was all about 'Capital Punishment` last season with the Clarets getting some notable victories over London clubs during our various cup runs in 2008-9. It is all a different story so far this season with London fast becoming a place where Clarets fans are hung, drawn and quartered. The 3-0 mauling and 5-0 drubbing by Chelsea and Spurs so far this season on the road was followed up on Saturday with a 5-3 defeat at the Boleyn Ground as West Ham took the honours in this battle of the Claret and Blue.
This may have been a great spectacle for the neutral with eight goals and plenty of incident including two penalties and a sending-off but for Clarets fans (i.e. the ones supporting the proper team in Claret & Blue not the poncey lot that blow bubbles) if was a case of a Hammer Horror show with a strange twist at the end. Burnley looked the better team by far in the first 15 minutes of this match and had we taken the lead during this period the end result could have been a different story.
It was however West Ham who against the run of play got their noses in front. Collison beat the offside trap from a quickly taken free-kick to shoot under Jensen from 12 yards out. Burnley now seemed to disintegrate and by the 65th minute a massive tonking looked on the cards with the Clarets already 5-0 down. At this stage, my mind was wandering to the Spurs 9-1 murdering of Wigan the week before with thoughts that maybe we could be getting a refund for our tickets. I have very rarely felt like leaving a game before the final whistle but had West Ham scored another goal, I might have been legging it to Upton Park Tube station to make a quick getaway and avoid the massive queues and taunts from the smirking Hammers fans.
To our credit only a handful of Clarets fans left the ground which was a pity for them because they missed a bit of a comeback after Burnley suddenly found fourth gear and started banging them in at the other end. It was 5-2 by the 75th minute following a brace of goals by Steven Fletcher. West Ham were known for losing goal leads this season although 5-0 was asking a lot still we didn`t give up hope with the slightly happier Burnley fans now chanting 'We are Gonna Win 6-5`
It was an impossible task of course and it might have been better for the Clarets to have lost 6-2 rather than Caldwell make a rash challenge in the last few minutes of the match to earn a straight red and get sent off. We were still determined to have the final word though and try and reduce the goal difference and it was Eagles, who had worked hard all afternoon who finally got some reward when in injury time he made it 5-3 after neatly slotting home a cross from Mears from just inside the box.
We were definitely in the ascendency at this stage with West Ham looking done-in, if we had still another 20 minutes to play after the Eagles goal we might have comeback to draw 5-5 but that was fantasy land not reality.
It was still a disappointment for Clarets fans to lose this one in the manner we did but at least we had something to cheer about in the end and did not come away from this match totally humiliated; something which looked a cast-iron certainty at 5-0 down.
We were though pretty woeful for much of this game with Stephen Jordan in particular having an off day down the left and it was no surprise when he was taken off after 55 minutes to be replaced by Kalvenes. Owen Coyle`s post-match comments summed up this game completely when he said:
'We were the architects of our own downfall. We gifted some soft goals, and made individual errors at the wrong time. I am loath to criticise officials, because I know how difficult the job is, but there were some big decisions which went against us, like on the second goal when Franco controlled the ball with his arm. Is the third a penalty? I don't know. On another day, maybe they will go for us.'
The defeat with some games still to be played today still left the Clarets in 11th spot on Saturday night with other results having gone our way. Clarets fans will be hoping Liverpool can prevent Everton from winning in their derby at Goodison Park today (Sunday) and we also need Wolves to keep our Brum in the Midlands derby at Molineux. If not we could drop to 13th by the end of today.
We now need to pick ourselves up for our next game against bottom club Portsmouth at Fratton Park next Saturday. We simply have to try and get the three points from this match against a struggling team under new management. Pompey got off to the worst possible start in Avram Grant`s first game in charge since the departure this week of former gaffer, Paul Hart. They got beat at home 4-1 although it was against Manchester United. It is vital we get our first away victory on the road this season next Saturday if we are to maintain confidence and head towards that survival target. It is just a pity we will now have to do it against Pompey without captain, Steven Caldwell who now starts a ban following his straight red card against West Ham.
The Full Match Report
Owen Coyle as predicted selected the same starting eleven for the fifth game running but made one change to the bench with defender, Christian Kalvenes preferred to winger, Fernando Guerrero.
We therefore lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, Bikey, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher
Subs: Penny, Duff, Kalvenes, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Nugent, Thompson.
St Helens referee, Chris Foy was the referee in charge of this one. The last time we saw him in action was in the derby match against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
On a cold and drizzly day in London, it was the Clarets who made the more impressive start as we looked for our first away win on the road this season following a run of three games without defeat.
All we had to do was play like we did in our last away game against Manchester City at Eastlands and surely we should be able to beat a struggling side like West Ham. It looked for a time like we might with the Clarets on top in the first 15 minutes of this game.
An early shot by Bikey tested the Hammers keeper, Robert Green with the ball hitting him straight in the chest and cannoning away to safety. A Robbie Blake corner then found Carlisle but Scott Parker managed to clear his header off the line.
At this stage the Clarets were sweetly passing the ball about with Gianfranco Zola`s men not even at the races but that soon changed after Guillermo Franco headed against the bar to set the alarm bells ringing in the Clarets defence. West Ham then took the lead after 18 minutes slightly against the run of play when a quickly taken free kick by Parker caught the Clarets defence off guard allowing Collison to beat the offside trap and expose the defensive frailties of Stephen Jordan by getting in behind him to shoot on target. Jensen stood no chance and West Ham were 1-0 up
There was a little bit of defiance from the Clarets after that poor goal but it didn`t last long. Chris Eagles set-up Fletcher with the Scot now bearing down on goal before an excellent tackle by Da Costa stopped him in his tracks. Elliott, making his 400th career league appearance then shot over the bar in the penalty area after some nice approach work from Fletcher and Blake.
It didn`t take long though for West Ham to increase their lead after looking dangerous on the break a number of times. Franco was a constant thorn in our side and he came close with a header over the bar before setting-up Stanislas to put the Hammers 2-0 ahead after 34 minutes. The defence again was culpable and although Jensen saved the first attempt from Stanislas, he picked up the loose ball in acres of space and under no pressure with the back-four ball watching had ample time to shoot through Jensen`s legs to score in off the far post.
The Clarets now really were under the cosh and were continually exposed down the left flank with Jordan in particular having a terrible off day. Three minutes before the break, Blake and Jordan got in a terrible mess after a pass from Kovac allowed Spector to ghost in between them, nick the ball and charge into the danger area. The frustrated Blake could only bring him down with a push in the box. Foy had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and Carlton Cole stepped up to coolly slot the ball past Jensen from the spot to end a terrible first half for the Clarets with the score now 3-0 to the Hammers.
Coyle refused to wring the changes for the start of the second half although with the same eleven did change the formation around with a view to being more attack minded. The 4-4-2 formation may have looked more aggressive but West Ham were having none of it and it looked like curtains when they made it 4-0 after 51 minutes. Jordan again was involved after giving away a free kick for a foul on Hines. It was Franco again given too much space who then got in a header to give Jensen no chance from six yards.
That was enough for Coyle, off came Jordan to be replaced by Kalvenes and in a double-substitution it was time for Nugent to come on to replace Blake to see if we could save some face by scoring at the other end.
Nugent was quickly into action and in the space of two minutes could have reduced the Hammers lead to 4-2. His first attempt though was a fluffed shot after some nice build up between Eagles and Fletcher. He came close though from a cross by Elliott heading just past the post but whatever we tried we just couldn`t seem to score, not that we were trying that much at this stage with attempt after attempt breaking down in midfield to set up West Ham on the break.
It just got worse and worse for the Clarets and after 64 minutes it was 5-0. Jensen brought down Hammers` substitute, Luis Jimenez to give West Ham their second penalty of the afternoon. Jimenez decided on a quick recovery to take the spot kick himself and made no mistake. Our heaviest defeat so far this season had already been 5-0 and now with West Ham scenting even more blood that was the score line again with still 25 minutes to play!
The game was now a joke for Clarets fans and we had no option but to resort to humour by singing at the top of our voice that we were going to win 6-5. Blow me little did we realise that we would now at least win this half 3-2!
On 68 minutes, Fletcher got one back after a low cross from Eagles allowed him to simply tap in to score his 7th goal of the season for the Clarets. Seven minutes later and Fletcher made it 8 goals for the season after Eagles once more got in a cross for the Scotland international striker to score from close range at the far post.
Chris Eagles nearly made it three from a free-kick, but the ball it the outside of the post. West Ham had not done yet though and as we entered five minutes of extra time they nearly made it 6-2 but Caldwell pulled back Hines who looked certain to score earning himself a red card. It looked like that would be the final straw for the Clarets and end a miserable day in the East End of London.
Eagles though had other ideas and deep into stoppage time got on the end of a low cross from Mears to make the final score 5-3. We had at least reduced the goal difference and come away with some pride.
Oh well at least Blackburn failed to beat Stoke at Ewood Park, their 0-0 draw not enough to take them above the Clarets. Both local rivals now have 17 points from 14 games with the same goal difference of minus 12.
West Ham: Green, Gabbidon, Parker, Franco (Jimene 60), Cole (Hines ht), Kovac, Spector, Da Costa, Ilunga, Collison (Faubert 77), Stanislas.
Substitutes: Noble, Nouble, Tomkins, Kurucz.
Goals: Collison 18 mins, Stanislas 33 mins, Cole (pen) 43 mins, Franco 51 mins, Jimenez (pen) 64 mins
Bookings: Yellow cards for Ilunga and Kovac
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan (Kalvenes 55), Alexander (McDonald 70), Bikey, Eagles, Elliott, Fletcher, Blake (Nugent 55).
Substitutes: Penny, Duff, Gudjonsson, Thompson.
Goals: Fletcher 68 & 74 mins, Eagles 90+5 mins
Bookings: Yellow card for Jensen, Straight Red for Caldwell
Referee: Chris Foy (St.Helens)
One player though shades the 'Star Man` award for me and that is Chris Eagles, who played his socks off all afternoon and was one of the few players who gave the Hammers something to think about. He was rewarded for his effort by setting up two assists and scoring our last goal.