Festive Flop 2- Toffees? Bah Humbug!
Monday 28th December 2009 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets failed yet again to secure their first away win of the season on Monday, this time going down 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park. Two late goals by the Toffees against a ten-man Burnley side sealed our fate and ensured that once more Clarets fans would have little to cheer about over the Christmas period. A disappointing 1-1 draw against struggling Bolton at Turf Moor on Boxing Day two days earlier was the best we could muster over the festive season and these two results leave us precariously placed in 14th spot on 20 points. The third from bottom club, Bolton played second from bottom club Hull City at home last night with both sides earning a point in a 2-2 draw. This now means that we are just two points ahead of both these clubs with Bolton also having played one game fewer. Portsmouth prop up the table on 14 points but they too have played one game less than the Clarets.
There is of course still all to play-for with at least nine clubs, including the Clarets in the mix struggling to avoid relegation with 9th from bottom side Stoke City on 21 points to bottom club, Pompey separated by just seven points. We could do ourselves a big favour and ease the pressure by beating Stoke City at Turf Moor in our next league game on Saturday 9th February, especially with games against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Chelsea at home coming up in January. However that`s for the future so let`s return to the Everton clash.
Once again there were a lot of positives to take away from this match. The Clarets looked just as likely to score in this match as Everton for the first hour of this game and indeed put together some good moves with McDonald and Eagles in particular looking lively and supplying numerous balls for Nugent and Fletcher to test the Everton defence. We were also solid in the back four especially in the centre where Duff and Bikey seem to be building up a good relationship in the absence of Carlisle and Caldwell. Alexander too was on form and creating chances through midfield.
It has to be said though that the referee, Howard Webb had a mare of a game as far as Clarets fans were concerned and seemed to be wearing a royal blue shirt for most of this match. This perhaps could be conclusively demonstrated by the yellow card tally in a game that really wasn`t that dirty. We had five players yellow carded compared to one for Everton but one thing Clarets fans could not complain about was the sending off of Stephen Jordan. Jordan through his stupidity effectively handed the game to Everton after we were reduced to ten-men on 63 minutes. Already on a booking, Jordan blatantly tugged at Pienaar`s shirt in full view of the referee giving Webb no option but to show him first yellow and then red for a second bookable offence.
Owen Coyle could only replace him by bringing on Kalvenes at left back and taking off one of our main strike threats in David Nugent.
This was a crucial point in the match and now we were very much on the back foot with Everton exploiting their one man advantage. We still had our moments though and held on until the 83rd minute when the Toffees finally broke the deadlock and with it Clarets fans hearts! Everton substitute James Vaughan latched on to a Marouane Fellaini cross to score from close range with seven minutes remaining. Owen Coyle was furious that the goal stood after claiming that Yakubu was in an offside position and being in front of Jensen had prevented him from seeing where the ball was until it was too late. There was however a suspicion that Tyrone Mears could have played Yakubu on. Either way though the goal stood and it made no odds in the end as Everton doubled their lead deep into injury time after Yakubu cut in from the right to feed Pienaar to complete a miserable afternoon and miserable Christmas for Clarets fans everywhere.
The Clarets have now gone nine games without a win and you have to go back to our victory against Hull City at Turf Moor in late October for our last three points. True we have had some creditable draws since that time against some Top 10 clubs including Manchester City at Eastlands and Aston Villa, Fulham and Arsenal at home but we have to break this drawing at home/losing away syndrome as soon as possible.
We should have a reasonable chance of survival if we can accumulate a minimum of 35 points. So where can we get another 15 points from in our remaining fixtures this season during 2010?
Well here is my wish list, which could and should be achievable and we don`t even have to win a match away from home!
Home Wins-Stoke, West Ham, Portsmouth, Wolves and Blackburn (15 points)
Away Draws-Bolton, Wigan and Hull (3 points)
That would be a total of 38 points and only one club in the past six seasons has been relegated with 38 or more points. If we could at least achieve those results anything else would be a bonus and provide guaranteed survival. Come on you Clarets!
The Clarets Team Sheet
Steven Caldwell and Clarke Carlisle were both still sidelined with groin injuries but with no new injuries or suspensions to worry about, Owen Coyle selected the same eighteen that faced Bolton at Turf Moor two days earlier on Boxing Day.
Our team-sheet therefore was once more 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
Owen Coyle`s intentions to win this match through attacking flair was clear from the start with his 4-4-2 formation but in the early stages of this match it was Everton who looked the more threatening and the Clarets defence had to batten down the hatches and weather the storm. At least the Clarets did not have the threat of Louis Saha to contend with. Everton`s top scorer was sidelined for this match having picked up a hamstring problem to add to Everton`s injury woes.
It was his replacement though, Yakubu who was causing all the early problems for the Clarets. With just a minute on the clock, Yakubu was clear of the defence pulling the ball back to Osman but his attempt was wasted much to the relief of Clarets fans. A shot by Yakubu then hit Duff on the arm but Webb thankfully deemed the contact to be accidental and play continued. This would be one of the few decisions to go our way during this match.
The Everton pressure in the end counted for nothing and the Clarets gradually began to get into the game with some possession of their own. A pass by Jordan was well-controlled by Fletcher, giving himself the opportunity to shoot. A fine save by Howard though denied the Clarets taking the lead.
The Clarets were now mounting attack after attack. A low shot by Elliott tested Howard who had to turn the ball round the post for a corner. As the ball came over from the corner, Duff headed it down to find Bikey. He hit a strong shot only to see the ball hit Tim Cahill ideally placed on the six-yard line.
Nugent pounced on a poor back header by Lucas Neill but could not make it count and now it was the turn of Everton to turn on the pressure again in an effort to get their first win on home soil since September. A Baines pass forward found Yakubu in space on 23 minutes but his side-footed volley hit the post. Jensen then came to the rescue ten minutes later after Bilyaletdinov got the better of Jordan. The Beast had to get down quickly to his right to save well and deny Everton yet again.
That was more or less it for the first half with both teams going in level at 0-0 and the Clarets having played quite well. We had been lucky though that Everton`s shooting had left a lot to be desired although the Clarets also had been unable to convert our own chances; a problem that was fast becoming a regular occurrence especially on the road.
The Clarets came out for the second half looking more refreshed and determined to put the Toffees under pressure. Everton began to look a little nervous with Eagles in particularly causing them a number of problems on the wing. One of his mazy runs included a 75 yard dash that eventually gave McDonald the opportunity to shoot. His curling shot though was just wide and Everton could relax again.
After 57 minutes, it was the Clarets again who nearly took the lead following a hard-won corner by Eagles. From the Eagles corner the ball was only half cleared and Elliott pounced getting a pass forward to Nugent. Turning to shoot, Nugent saw the ball bounce out off the far post to safety denying the former Preston striker his fourth goal of the season for the Clarets and his second in two games. It would have been fitting for him to score against the club he supported as a child especially with his family also in the crowd but it wasn`t to be. Sadly for Nugent that would be his last action of the match and he would now have to be sacrificed due to the sending off of Stephen Jordan for a needless shirt pull on Pienaar in the 63rd minute. Jordan had been earlier booked for a foul on Bilyaletdinov in the first half but what possessed him to pull back Pienaar by his shirt when we were under no obvious danger we will never know. But it was foolish and eventually cost us the game with the Clarets now down to ten-men and Nugent now also off the pitch as a result. Coyle had no option but to take off one of the strikers and plug the left back position by bringing on Kalvenes.
An attempted clearance by Kalvenes nearly gave Everton the lead. The ball hit Fellaini and shot into the air giving Yakubu a chance to head home. The ball was looping towards the top corner but Jensen at full strength palmed the ball away to safety.
At this point the Clarets were looking solid in defence with a good chance they could hold on and get a valuable point but with seven minutes to go disaster struck. Kalvenes was in the way of a low cross from Fellaini and the deflected ball fell to substitute Vaughan who had only been on the pitch two minutes. He managed to somehow squeeze the ball past the partially unsighted Jensen at the far post amidst strong complaints that Yakubu breathing down Jensen`s neck was clearly in an offside position. No matter the goal counted and another miserable day in Liverpool now looked on the cards for all Clarets. With time running out both Eagles and McDonald brought out saves from Howard but you just sensed the game had slipped away and as if to rub our noses in it, Everton doubled their lead in stoppage time. A pass from Yakubu fell to Pienaar who running on the ball thumped the ball home.
There is only thing you can say isn`t there? Bah Humbug!!
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Baines, Heitinga, Neill, Bilyaletdinov (Vaughan 81), Cahill (Neville 60), Pienaar, Osman, Fellaini, Yakubu
Subs Not Used: Nash, Coleman, Shane Duffy, Agard, Baxter
Booked: Yellow card for Pienaar
Goals: Vaughan (83), Pienaar (90+2)
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott (Blake 85), Nugent (Kalvenes 63), Fletcher (Thompson 81)
Subs Not Used: Penny, Edgar, Gudjonsson, Guerrero
Booked: Yellow cards for Duff, Mears, Bikey, Elliott and Jordan. Jordan sent off for 2nd yellow
Referee: Howard Webb (Rotherham)