Festive Flop 1-Bolton & All That
Saturday 26th December 2009 @2pm Kick-Off
The traditional Clarets slump over the festive period was no different this year either with a less than impressive 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Bolton on Boxing Day at Turf Moor followed two days later by a 2-0 defeat against lowly Everton at Goodison Park. We shall review the latter game in Festive Flop 2 but let`s first consider the Bolton game.
The Clarets had high hopes that 'Fortress Turf Moor` would come to our rescue on Boxing Day in a crucial game against another club struggling for survival this season where three points would have eased our relegation fears and put us in good spirits for the challenges ahead.. A record crowd too for this season turned up on Boxing Day braving the icy, cold and slippery conditions. 21,761 fans packed Turf Moor and yet somehow the atmosphere seemed lacklustre and far too quiet! Were we all far too stuffed with Turkey, Christmas pudding and the rest or simply just too cold to break out in song? Both sets of fans failed to inspire each other and it was all a rather subdued affair for most of the game. A goal by Matthew Taylor from a direct free kick after 29 minutes was enough to give Bolton the half-time lead against an under par and lacklustre Clarets team before Nugent headed in Wade Elliott`s cross to equalise after 56 minutes. It was the Clarets who then surged forward looking for the winning goal with the roar of the Clarets fans urging them on at long last. We looked a much better, determined side in the second half and had countless opportunities to put the game beyond Bolton`s reach. We just couldn`t take our chances and make the possession count though and in the end we had to settle for a disappointing draw.
Once again Clarets fans traipsed away from Turf Moor on the 26th of a December muttering that the 'Curse of Boxing Day` had struck again but in the end we only had ourselves to blame for not turning up until the second-half and then failing to make the pressure count.
The Clarets Team Sheet
Neither Steven Caldwell nor Clarke Carlisle were fit enough to play in this game. Both had limped off with groin injuries in the last match against Wolves at Molineux. Coyle decided therefore to drop back Bikey into the centre of defence and give Michael Duff his first Premier League start of the season. Another tactical change saw David Nugent make a rare start with on the loan striker partnering Steven Fletcher up front.
During the week the Clarets announced they had agreed a £300,000 compensation fee with Newcastle for David Edgar and almost on cue he found himself in the eighteen for the first time this season in the League.
Our team-sheet was therefore as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Nugent, Fletcher (Blake 80)
Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Edgar, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Thompson
The Full Match Report
Clarets fans gave Bolton defender, Gary Cahill some heartfelt polite applause in appreciation of course of his time he spent on-loan at Burnley a few seasons back whilst on Aston Villa`s books before St Helens referee, Chris Foy got the match underway.
The subdued crowd though seemed to have an effect on the players as well and the game got off to a slow start. Burnley fans might have expected the more aggressive 4-4-2 formation to start paying dividends early on but there was little attacking play to cheer with both sides struggling to make inroads in these first few minutes. The game look set to be a dire affair until Kevin Davies curled a shot past the far post to give the Clarets a wake-up call. Gradually though the Clarets started to make an impression and were looking the most likely to score mid-way through the first half.
Nugent looked to have been fouled by Cahill in the penalty area but Foy was not impressed and play continued. With 23 minutes played, Fletcher missed what can only be described as a sitter after Elliott had robbed Knight and crossed the ball into the danger area. Fletcher should have thumped the ball home but somehow instead side-footed his shot wide; this is becoming an habit recently and is something he needs to quickly address.
David Nugent was looking the most likely to score although opportunities were few and far between in a game that was not particularly exciting for either set of fans. Nugent it was though who came close with a shot only to see the ball go wide but on 30 minutes Bolton took the lead from a free-kick after Bikey was deemed to foul Davies going for a high-ball. Someone behind me uttered those dreaded words having spotted the gaps that the ball was going in the top right corner and sadly he was dead right as Taylor from 25 yards out expertly hit a belter with Jensen hopelessly stranded.
The goal was a shocker for the Clarets and it seemed to affect their momentum with the players perhaps conscious of the fact that they hadn`t come from behind and won yet all season.
Nugent was trying hard but it was Bolton who nearly doubled their lead with the end of the first half fast approaching. Jensen had to block a shot from Klasnic in stoppage time to keep the Clarets hopes alive but the truth was this was a disappointing first half for the Clarets and surely things could only get better in the second half. In fact they would have to.
Owen Coyle in typical fashion made no changes for the start of the second half.
The Clarets though came out more positively nearly getting the equaliser after 5 minutes. A determined run by Eagles lead to a chance for Kevin McDonald from 20 yards out. He let rip with a thunderous left-footed shot that rattled the underside of the bar.
Bolton though still had their chances with Taylor coming close with a shot that skimmed the post to keep the Clarets on their toes.
It was the Clarets by now though that had the bit between their teeth and they were beginning to make their possession count. Fletcher again missed another chance shooting over the bar after the ball had been pulled back to him by Eagles but we would soon have our equaliser.
On 56 minutes, Elliott got in a swinging cross from the right and Nugent was ideally paced to rise up and head home to make it 1-1.
It was the Clarets who were now in total control but Jaaskelainen was also in top form and he made two splendid saves to deny the Clarets a second and probably winning goal first from Eagles and then Nugent. Try as we might we just couldn`t make the pressure count. Nugent had been on fire all afternoon and was trying hard for his second brace of the season. He nearly got it too with 8 minutes to go after Elliott put a long ball forward to him. Brushing off Knight he let rip with a shot but could only drag it wide of target as yet another chance went begging.
So that was it, another draw which in the end was very disappointing despite our best efforts in the second half. The result might have meant we had now gone five games without defeat at Turf Moor but it also meant we had not won home or away now in eight games since beating Hull City at home back in late October. That would soon be no win in nine games but you can read about the defeat at Everton in Festive Flop 2
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs Not Used: Penny, Kalvenes, Edgar, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Blake, Thompson
Goals: Nugent ( 56)
Bolton Wanderers; Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Steinsson, Basham, Taylor, Cohen, Lee (Gardner 73), Davies, Klasnic (Davies 67)
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Samuel, Ricketts, O'Brien, Elmand
Goal: Taylor (29)
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)