Wolves Write on Burnley's Wall and Take the Bricks
Saturday 13th March 2010
2010 does not look like being a good year for Claret!
This is now becoming a nightmare season for Burnley with yet another home defeat against a fellow struggling side. The trouble is we are gifting the opposition too many goals which we simply cannot afford to do at this level and we are being punished big-time for that. On Saturday it was Tyrone Mears chance to compete for the 'Cock-Up of the Year' title. A horribly short headed back pass to the keeper was pounced on by Matt Jarvis who easily rounded Jensen to tap home into an empty net and put Wolves 1-0 up. When you are down, lady luck seems to desert you and there were certainly ample examples of that in this game but we can`t keep using that as an excuse. Individual performances have to improve and we need to gel again as a team. The nerves are kicking in and confidence and quality are both lacking at the moment and when you can`t beat a team that quite frankly were the worst to visit Turf Moor this season things begin to look ominous.
An average performance by the Clarets in the first half probably meant a few strong words from Laws at half-time in an effort to get them to buck up their ideas. They didn`t have much chance to try though and found themselves 2-0 down after just two minutes into the second half. This truly was bad luck in the sense it needed a deflection off Clark Carlisle`s bum for Adlene Guedioura's angled shot to beat Jensen for an own goal. That truly was a killer blow and it also killed the home fans spirit stone dead!
Everybody looks for positive things to say in these desperate times and in truth we did show some fight to try and get back in this game. Although not popular with fans at the time, taking off Eagles and replacing him with Thompson improved the shape of the team and we looked stronger in attack. Laws had also at the same time brought on Blake for Bikey and that also seemed to lift spirits on the pitch with Blake making an impressive cameo appearance.
At long last with 17 minutes to go the Clarets fans had something to cheer about when we pulled a goal back. It was Thompson who headed Burnley back into contention after diverting Graham Alexander's shot from the edge of the area past Marcus Hahnemann. It was all Burnley from now on but try as we could to get that equaliser it remained elusive as the bad luck element kicked in again.
Both David Nugent and Blake hit the woodwork and despite long spells of possession with attack after attack in the Wolves half the away side held on to get the crucial three points leaving the Clarets demoralised with relegation looking a strong possibility. We are now third from bottom three points adrift from safety with those around us having played fewer games. The problem for Brian Laws is that he has only won one of the last 10 games for the Clarets and the home form has evaporated with still no win away all season. The perception of Laws is also not being helped by the fact he was sacked at Sheffield Wednesday and indeed taking both clubs together he has only won one game in 22 matches this season. I really feel for Brian, he truly is a nice guy but unless the Clarets start to win and win quickly the calls for him to go are only going to increase more and more. Now is the time to get behind the manager and players but you just know in the real world that will not happen if results keep being so disappointing.
The Clarets Team Sheet
Steven Fletcher was still deemed too unfit to play with his broken hand. Injuries to Kevin McDonald and Jack Cork also gave Laws a selection headache in midfield. Andre Bikey once more got the job of trying to play in midfield, a position that in all honesty is looking more and more unsuitable for him but needs must! Wade Elliott also got a start playing out wide at least initially. There was good news on the bench too with Jay Rodriguez making an appearance in the eighteen for the first time since returning from his loan spell at Barnsley. This could be an indication that Laws would like to keep him available at the club rather than send him out on loan until the end of the season.
The line-up in summary was therefore as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Elliott, Alexander, Bikey, Eagles, Paterson, Nugent
Subs: Weaver, Duff, Jordan, Edgar, Blake, Thompson, Rodriguez.
The Full Match Report
It was pretty novel to have a referee in charge without him being changed at the last minute and so scheduled Kent referee, Steve Bennett got this game underway in front of a nervous crowd with both sets of fans desperate for three points.
The Clarets made a lively start with Paterson coming close with a toe-poke that went just wide, It was then Chris Eagles turn to have a go from distance; his shot requiring a scrambled save from Marcus Hahnemann who managed to tip the ball round the post. The keeper also had to deal with a long-range effort from Alexander. Hahnemann at this stage of the game was certainly being kept busy and next it was the turn of Fox to test the keeper from a free-kick. Sadly for the Clarets the keeper passed the test and tipped the ball over the bar.
Wolves up to now playing 4-5-1 with just Doyle up front were not looking any threat whatsoever and their attacks had been limited to a weak header from David Jones comfortably dealt with by Jensen. A bizarre incident then followed when Doyle was set free with Jensen charging out of his area. The Beast head-butted Doyle in the backside and earned himself a booking.
That was bordering on the humorous but what followed next was certainly no joke for Clarets fans as we plotted our own downfall thanks to a terrible mistake in defence by Tyrone Mears
On 26 minutes, Mears attempted to head the ball back to Jensen but made a hash of it. The weak header did not have enough power to reach Jensen who was now desperately charging out to get to the ball before the advancing Jarvis could get to it. Jarvis though did get to it and simply rounded Jensen to tap the ball at walking pace into an empty net. Disaster and it took the stuffing out of players and fans alike.
When you are down, often the luck goes against you and in the 40th minute Fox had to have treatment for a suspected broken rib. He needed oxygen and looked in a bad way. There was no way he could carry on and was eventually stretchered off with Jordan having come on to replace him at left-back. Thankfully though it has since proved not to be as serious as first thought and Fox has a strong chance of playing in our next game at Wigan this Saturday.
The hard luck story continued one minute before the break following a free-kick by Mears. Carlisle knocked down the ball to Nugent who getting the better of his marker, Berra got in a shot that bounced high towards goal only to clip the top of the bar.
So that was it another disappointing half in which for the second time in two consecutive games we went into the break 1-0 down at home.
Surely we might get a bit more luck in the second-half? Well not quite, considering we were 2-0 down within two minutes of the re-start thanks to a deflected goal. A clearance from a corner was pounced on by the Wolves attack with the ball falling eventually to Guedioura. He got in a low shot that looked to be going well-wide until Carlisle`s backside got in the way to deflect the ball into the bottom corner of the net! If the first goal had taken the stuffing out of the Clarets fans, we had also after the second lost the giblets as well with Burnley now looking increasingly like Turkeys being prepared for Christmas.
We were not out of this yet though and the Clarets now at long-last began to show some fighting spirit despite the mountain they now had to climb to get anything from this game.
Almost instantly after the goal, the Clarets went down the other end with Paterson getting in a dangerous cross. The ball was blocked blatantly by Berra`s arm but of course the bad luck monster struck again with penalty appeals being turned down by Steve 'Gordon` Bennett!
It was time to change things round and bring on some fresh Clarets legs so in a double-substitution off came Eagles and Bikey to be replaced by Thompson and Blake. There were ominous signs for Laws when a section of the home crowd booed his decision to take off Eagles, surely a sense of the frustration we were all feeling about the situation but not one I would ever condone. Booing is counter-productive and I just hope for Laws sake and our chances of avoiding the drop, this doesn`t become a regular occurrence between now and the end of the season.
At least Laws was vindicated by making the changes, we now looked a much more balanced side and began to play our best spell of football and enjoy the lion`s share of possession. Wolves though did have the odd flurry on the counter-account to remind us of the danger and Doyle nearly made it game over when his shot flew across the face of goal.
Blake though was now causing Wolves all sorts of problems and after 65 minutes he created some space to put over a cross that confused Hahnemann with the ball eventually hitting the foot of the post. So once again the woodwork and lady luck had come to Wolves rescue!
Eight minutes later though it was game on after we got a goal back with 17 minutes still on the clock.
A cross by Mears had been cleared but Alexander pounced to put the ball back in and there was Thompson to glance home his header and score his first goal of the season and his first since the Play-offs semi against Reading at the Madejski last season.
The Clarets were now in the ascendency and turned the screw even tighter with Wolves fans now feeling the pressure and living on a knife-edge as the clock ticked down. Elliott laid off a ball to Alexander who had a good attempt on goal putting his shot just a little too high. Once more Wolves though had the odd break to relieve the pressure and now it was the turn of Wolves' substitute Michael Mancienne to try and seal the game. His skidding shot though was well-saved by Jensen and the onslaught at the other end could continue.
A header by Leon Cort from Blake's corner was too high and then Blake himself tested the Wolves keeper with a shot that must have stung Hahnemann's hands. It just wasn`t to be for the Clarets and as the final whistle blew there was that miserable feeling we now had it all to do to avoid the drop with games running out. We now have to pick ourselves up again and hope we can play with confidence and skill in our next crucial game away to Wigan on Saturday. We certainly can`t afford to gift anymore goals and it would be nice if we could get a little bit of luck for a change.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox (Jordan, 40), Elliott, Alexander, Bikey, Eagles (Thompson, 55), Paterson, Nugent.
Subs not used: Weaver, Duff, Edgar, Rodriguez.
Goal: Thompson (73 )
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Hahnemann, Zubar, Craddock, Berra, Ward, Foley, Guedioura (Mancienne, 59), Henry, Jones (Keogh, 70), Jarvis (Ebanks-Blake, 78,), Doyle.
Subs not used: Hennessey, Elokobi, Vokes, Milijas.
Goals: Jarvis (26), Carlisle og (47)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Berra, Guedioura, Keogh, Mancienne
Possession: 58% Burnley, 42% Wolves (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Steve Bennett(Kent)
Fox continues to show he is more than capable of being our worst left back in the squad despite coming in the January window as the great white hope to plug the defensive problems down that flank. He was substituted though after struggling with injured ribs so maybe that had been affecting his performance.
It has to be said it was even worse on the opposite flank with Mears these days looking a shadow of his former self. Earlier in the season he was being touted as a potential England right back but what was he doing against Wolves? A terribly short headed back pass to Jensen handed the first goal to Wolves on a plate and not content with making gaffs in defence he is also proving consistently useless at taking direct free kicks so why do we keep giving him the chance, Brian?
David Nugent got the fans official Man of the Match award so we will go with the flow. A cameo appearance by Thompson and Blake though are also worthy of note.