Saturday 20th March 2010 @3pm Kick-Off
This was such a cruel, cruel game for the Clarets. We battled and we battled in our attempt to get our first win on the road this season against a Wigan side that were also desperate for a win in this six-pointer of a game at the foot of the table. This is quite possibly our best performance away from home all season and we played with confidence and determination despite a terrible run of form of late. A number of Clarets fans, including myself, have been somewhat critical of Brian Laws tactics in recent matches and when you have only won one in ten games you do tend to think we are doing something wrong! Laws has certainly wrung the changes and although injuries have been a factor, we rarely seem to have put out the same team in two consecutive matches. It got to the stage where some fans were wondering if all these changes were causing the problem when consistency might help. Some of the selections have seemed a little odd to say the least and there were ominous signs last week when the manager was booed for taking off Eagles. Something I would never condone by the way.
I have to say though in this game against Wigan, his team selection, formation and tactics were spot on and the team played with confidence for the whole of the match before cruelly being denied a point in the dying seconds of the match. I am also pleased to say there was no repetition of the booing we heard in the last game at Turf Moor and there was even a return to singing 'Brian Laws Claret & Blue Army`.
In this match we seemed competent in all areas of the park; Jensen made some superb saves especially in the second half to keep us in the match, our back four looked solid and confident, our midfield were on the ball, driving forward and coming back in support and our attack looked dangerous. Had Paterson`s attempt not rattled against the woodwork in the second half the result could well have been different.
It had been over five months since we had kept a clean sheet in a match and with just one minute of extra time remaining, it looked like we had finally earned a valuable point away from home without conceding. Struggling teams tend to struggle for a number of reasons and that can include lack of confidence, players making costly individual errors, managers making the wrong tactical decisions or just simply luck deserts you. We have had games recently where all four of those reasons would be applicable but yesterday we just fell to the last one. Lady luck deserted us big time in such a cruel way when deep into injury time Wigan got a late goal to win 1-0 thanks to a Rodallega header from a Victor Moses cross. A draw would have been a fair result and I don`t even think the Wigan fans would be churlish enough not to agree with that.
One of the annoying things too this season has been the regular inability of clubs fighting for the big honours in the Premier League to beat our rivals struggling to avoid relegation. We had another example of this over the weekend with Wolves somehow surviving against high-flying Aston Villa at Villa Park and coming away with a valuable point in a 2-2 draw! I do not believe we are that much worse than the bottom six clubs in this division and yet all of them have had their little 2-3 match runs and little bit of fortune. Is it not our turn for a change?
This defeat has kept us in 18th spot on 24 points with just seven games to play. We are still 3 points behind the fourth from bottom club, who are now West Ham. They thankfully got beat 2-0 away to Arsenal but still have a game in hand over the Clarets.
This is turning out to be such a depressing season now and 2010 appears to be the club`s annus horribilis so far with one man and one man only being to blame for this. Thank you for nothing Mr Judas Coyle! How much the Clarets fans need a tonic and what a tonic it would be if we could now beat Blackburn in the East Lancashire derby at Turf Moor next Sunday! A victory still might not be enough to avoid the drop but a loss would be a disaster and we certainly don`t need the crowing of the mob from the wrong end of the M65 claiming a double over us this season and gloating that they have just put the final nail in our coffin.
The Clarets Team Sheet
Our leading goal-scorer, Steven Fletcher returned to the starting eleven after missing the last three matches due to a broken hand and Laws showed his further attacking intent by also naming Nugent up front with striker, Martin Paterson playing a wider role. Enforced changes to the back-four due to injuries to Carlisle and Fox saw the return of Stephen Jordan at left-back and Michael Duff in the centre of defence.
The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McDonald, Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs: Weaver, Edgar, Bikey, Cork, Blake, Eagles, Thompson
The Full Match Report
The Clarets fans came in their numbers (about 4000,almost a sell-out) and filled the away end of the DW Stadium but the lack of atmosphere from the other three sides of the ground with loads of empty seats was plainly evident. The church-like atmosphere was only occasionally broken by some pesky Wigan drummer boy giving everybody a headache. At various times during the match, the Clarets fans decided to hijack the drumming and after the 'bum-bum-ba-ba-bum` shouted out 'BURNLEY` much to the annoyance of the Wigan fans who were completely drowned out by the chanting from our end.
Chester referee, Mike Jones having checked there were no beach balls on the pitch got the game underway and it was the Clarets who were first out of the blocks in a lively start. Titus Bramble blocked a shot from Alexander and then Fletcher tested Kirkland with an angled shot.
With just five minutes on the clock and Wigan looking nervous, the Clarets nearly broke the deadlock. A shot by Paterson was charged down by Bramble but the loose ball fell to Elliott who looked certain to score before Gary Caldwell got in the way.
The Clarets were clearly on top at this stage in all areas of the park and after 15 minutes Nugent ran in on goal only to be brought down by Bramble but the blatant foul went unnoticed.
Wigan had hardly been in our half but on 18 minutes they nearly took the lead after the Clarets gave away a silly corner after miscommunication between Alexander and Jensen. Caldwell got in a header from the corner that Elliott had to deal with at the back post. The deflection off Elliott hit the post and away to safety much to the relief of Clarets fans.
The match up to half-time then became very tense with a scrap in midfield that led to very few goal-scoring opportunities by either side. Michael Duff in particular was keeping out most of the threat down the middle and the Clarets at the other end whilst playing some nice moves in the middle of the park just couldn`t get the ball to the front men. Both sides desperate for the three points had to be content with 0-0 at half-time but the Clarets would have been the happier of the two.
The second half got underway with the Clarets once more in command with McDonald in particular looking lively. He linked well with Fletcher on the break but Elliott`s cross could not pick out anybody in a good position with Paterson only able to get in a weak shot that gave Kirkland no problems.
James McCarthy got himself in a dangerous position at the other end but stumbled in the box to set-up a Burnley counter-attack. A punt up the pitch found Nugent with a great chance to score but he shot too early with the ball wide of target.
There was a tense, bad atmosphere on the ground it seemed and the tensions were mounting on and off the pitch. It was not helped when some fool in the Burnley end chucked something at Kirkland. He fell to the ground having appeared to have been hit in the head with some sort of missile. When will these idiots realise it only brings shame on the club? I just hope they get the culprit and ban him.
Alexander came close with a curling shot from 20 yards out after the ball fell to him from a free-kick but his effort was just wide.
Wigan though were steadily beginning to get back into this game and enjoy some possession in our half. A shot from substitute, Jason Scotland flew just wide and from a corner, a header by Rodallega had to be cleared off the line by Elliott.
It looked like the Clarets would take the lead though when Nugent slipped a pass into the box for Paterson to unleash a fantastic volley. The ball though frustratingly hit the bar and that seemed to stir Wigan up who began to put our defence under more pressure especially our left-back, Stephen Jordan.
Brian Jensen had to make two excellent saves to keep us in this game with just a few minutes left to play. He first palmed away a volley from McCarthy and then at full stretch managed to tip over a shot by Mohamed Diame. With Wigan pressing Burnley survived yet another goalmouth scramble and the Clarest fans were beginning to believe that at long last we might get something on the road for the first time since the point at Eastlands back in November.
We nearly made it three points when Blake who had earlier come on to replace Fletcher put Nugent clear. He just couldn`t get the ball past Kirkland though and that looked to be it with four minutes of added time now being played out.
With one minute of added time to play though, disaster struck for the Clarets. A cross from substitute winger, Victor Moses found the head of Rodallega and the ball flew past Jensen into the net to break all Clarets fans hearts and spirit. We deserved a draw at the very least but some sod up there does not like us!
Wigan: Kirkland, Caldwell, Scharner (Scotland 33), Bramble, Melchiot, Figueroa, Thomas (Moses 74), McCarthy, Diame, Moreno, Rodallega
Subs Not Used: Stojkovic, Gohouri, Amaya, Gomez, Sinclair
Goal: Rodallega (90+3 minutes)
Booked: Yellow Card for Bramble
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McDonald, Paterson (Eagles 82), Nugent, Fletcher (Blake 68)
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Edgar, Bikey, Cork, Thompson
Booked: Yellow Cards for Mears, Duff and McDonald
Possession: 52% Wigan, 48% Burnley, (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)
The back four looked remarkably solid considering injuries had forced two changes. Our opponents seem to sense that the left back position is always our weakness with Kalvenes, Jordan and Fox taking it in turns to often be punished down that flank. Jordan though standing in for the injured Fox, had a really good game against Wigan despite having a hectic time for most of the match. He should maybe have done better to contain Moses and prevented him from getting in the cross that led to their goal but all-in-all a very solid performance. Some Clarets fans rated Jordan with a low score; they must have seen a different match to me!
Centre back, Michael Duff making his first start since the game away to Bolton in January was excellent and hardly put a foot wrong the whole afternoon so he gets our Star Player award!