That's Why We're Going Down, Brum Brum!
Saturday 1st May 2010 @12:45pm Kick-Off
The Clarets failed yet again to win on the road going down 2-1 to Birmingham at St Andrews and the defeat ensured we now have a record that nobody wanted. Just one win and one draw all season away from home means we now have the worst away record in the Premier League since it was formed having lost 17 games.
This was a very strange game from so many angles. With the Clarets already relegated, in the hearts of the fans we were just going through the motions in this match and playing for pride although the club would not see it that way with about £800,000 to fight for if we could finish above Hull (Yawn!)
Birmingham themselves in their last home game of the season had nothing really to fight for either although already 9th at the start of this game they would be keen to finish in the Top 10 and also set up a new record of 16 unbeaten home games. Finishing 9th in the top flight would also be their best performance since 1959. All things then look to be smiling sweetly for Brum after this game but the Clarets once more come away empty handed against a team this time that was promoted along with us last season. Gawd I can`t wait for August and the new season to start. I am not one that can pretend I have enjoyed the Premier League experience much this season although I would still prefer to be plying our trade in the top flight than having to accept second-best in the Championship. Well we are told we are going down stronger and have even been quoted favourites for promotion next season so let`s hope all that happens!
Anyway back to the match. Yes this was a strange game indeed but the Clarets fans certainly came in good humour after being resigned to relegation following just one season in the Premier League.
The scene was set for this match in very much the first minute when Brum on the attack put over a dangerous cross that exposed once more our failings in the back four. Lee Bowyer headed just wide from the Jerome cross but we should have done better in our marking. The relief and phews amongst the Clarets faithful sparked an instant chant of 'That's Why We're Going Down` before the Brum fans had chance to tell us! The humour was well received by the Brum contingent who were even applauding us for the effort. With the Clarets looking below par being poor defensively and ineffective up front, it was no surprise that Clarets fans had more interest in coming up with funny chants than watching the game with any seriousness. There was the inevitable references to supporting Fulham and playing in Europe something which may have had the Brum fans baffled unless they had been closely looking at our exploits in the fair play league. Brian Laws might have thought at long last we were singing about his Claret & Blue Army until he listened closely and realised we had gone all retro and were praising Jimmy Mullen instead! Not sure I understood the relevance of the retro bit but it seemed to amuse many and at one point even Gifton Noel-Williams got a mention. Did I miss something here? Going down stronger and being 'rich` also got a mention although no doubt Brum fans would be enjoying their even greater riches next season but I think they understood the relevance in view of their semi yo-yo tendencies in the past. It certainly precipitated another round of applause for our humour.
Yes, but what about the game on the pitch I hear you ask? It`s a pity we didn't points for getting corners, I lost count of how many we had in the first half and how many times we sang 'We're Going to Score from a Corner' which of course we never did and haven't all season! It perhaps summed up why we couldn`t make what pressure we had tell since we achieved very few goal scoring opportunities from open-play. It was perhaps a typical performance from the Clarets on the road this season. Lots of huffing and puffing to no avail upfront only to be caught out on the break with soft crosses that should have been dealt with better once more summed up a Clarets performance.
Indeed the two goals we conceded in the first half came from our inability to deal effectively with crosses. The first on 29 minutes came from a Larsson cross that bamboozled the Clarets defence into panic in the six yard box. The ball was headed down by Bowyer with Jerome flinging himself forward and making contact with his chest. If Jensen`s reflexes had been quicker he might have saved it but instead he deflected the ball into his own net to earn himself an official own goal.
Shortly before half-time Birmingham doubled their lead after being awarded a dubious free-kick on 41 minutes. Steven Caldwell was adjudged to have fouled Jerome in what looked like a pretty innocuous challenge. McFadden took the free-kick and the Clarets failed to deal with it allowing Johnson to head back across goal with the unmarked Benetiz taking an easy chance to thump the ball over the line from close range. 2-0 to Birmingham at half-time and all the Clarets fans could do was to poke fun at our performance in song and pretend we didn`t care! Maybe we didn`t although I am not sure I want to hear our own fan base too much confirming the fact we are rubbish and a laughing stock. It was hilarious though listening to some of the chants and innovative lyrics.
I am not sure this was the game Sky Sports were hoping to cover after deciding to televise the game live late in the day and change the kick-off time to the earlier 12:45 pm. They were probably hoping we were still in the mix to avoid relegation but sadly that was no longer the case and as a spectacle it was probably not very exciting for the neutral fans.
The second half if anything was even less pulsating with both teams I think resigned to their fates. Both teams had their moments but you just sensed Brum had taken their foot off the accelerator and Burnley just had their huff and puff which in the main was easily dealt with by the Brum back four. I guess we had the last laugh after Thompson pulled a goal back with an excellent, well-taken shot with three minutes remaining of normal time. The Clarets fans humour continued to the end with the inevitable 'We Are Going to Win 3-2` but of course we didn`t and never really looked like getting an equaliser either as the game came to its inevitable conclusion.
Oh well it was a fun day out and the pub crack and banter with Brum fans was good after the game too, but in a way I am glad I am not going to any more Premier League away games for a while. In football terms it`s generally been woeful with little to cheer about and expensive to boot!
The Clarets Team Sheet
There was a welcome return for our captain, Steven Caldwell who made his first start for the Clarets since last December. Brian Laws seems to prefer his signing Leon Cort in the centre of defence and it was the unfortunate Duff, dropping back to the bench who had to make way for Caldwell despite the Northern Ireland international having looked solid and comfortable in recent games.
Chris Eagles likely to be leaving Turf Moor in the summer was not in the eighteen, his place going to Kevin McDonald. Big Kev was returning for the first time since his misdemeanour and club fine for drinking in the KSC 110 club after being subbed at half-time in the recent 6-1 debacle against Manchester City.
I suppose with about £800,000 to play for if we finish one place higher above Hull, Brian Laws was not about to drop other players likely to leave in the summer like David Nugent and he resisted the temptation to give some of our youth players and those on the fringes of the first team a run-out.
Our full line up therefore was as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Caldwell, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, Cork, Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs: Weaver, Duff, Bikey, McDonald, Blake, Thompson, Rodriguez
The Full Match Report
Northants referee Peter Walton got this match underway, his first involving the Clarets this season. Clarets fans came in their numbers in humorous voice determined not to let relegation get them down whereas the Brum fans seemed pretty subdued with the ground showing many empty Blues seats.
Birmingham were soon on the attack and in the first minute Jerome got in a cross to find Bowyer who thankfully headed just wide with the Clarets defence looking like startled rabbits. Caldwell then came to the rescue moments later getting in a good block after Jerome put the pacy "Chucho" Benitez through on goal.
Brum had set off at a lively, blistering pace whereas the Clarets just couldn`t seem to settle. They were quick on the break and after defending a Clarets attack they moved forward quickly to force a corner taken my McFadden. Jerome got on the end of it but could only head over the bar.
Chuco and Jerome were proving a right handful for the Clarets and when the Ecuadorian crossed low to find Jerome, Jensen at the near post had to be alert to save well and prevent Brum`s leading goal scorer making it 11 league goals for the season.
The Clarets were getting a few attacking opportunities but they looked laboured in comparison. Paterson in particular was looking lively and getting in a number of crosses from the right but to no avail with both Nugent and Fletcher quiet and unable to get into the game. A spate of corners followed for the Clarets but they all frustratingly came to nothing.
Only one attack of note in the first half tested the Brum keeper, Joe Hart following a long range effort from Jack Cork. In the end though, it was a comfortable save for the keeper on loan from Manchester City.
Another dismal record followed on the half-hour mark though when the Clarets went 1-0 behind. The goal confirmed we had now equaled Wimbledon`s record of 26 successive games without keeping a clean sheet and we could earn the record in our own right next week should Spurs score against us on Sunday in the last game of a pretty miserable season.
To make matters worse the goal was credited as an own goal to Jensen after Jerome chested the ball into the net via a deflection from the Beast. Once more though, the Clarets defence should have handled the cross better from Larsson with the ball falling nicely for Bowyer in the six yard box to head on to Jerome. Four minutes before half-time the Blues extended their lead from a free-kick after Caldwell was harshly adjudged to have fouled Jerome. The Clarets once more should have dealt with McFadden`s free-kick better than they did with the ball falling to Johnson who simply headed down to Chuco to score from close range and secure his first goal for the club in front of a home crowd.
The Clarets once more had not been at the races and the 2-0 score line at halftime was a fair reflection of the game.
Brian Laws made no changes for the start of the second-half and the Clarets would now have to show more fight and determination if they were to get anything from this game. They set off a little livelier with Fletcher at long last getting into the action and coming close with a couple of efforts. His first was a powerful shot that flew just over the bar and then he managed to test Hart with a well-hit left footed shot from just outside the penalty area.
Birmingham though still pressed forward although perhaps with a little less enthusiasm sensing the game was already in the bag. Chuco shot just past the post before crossing for Larsson to shoot wide of target with a powerful volley. Leon Cort then came to the rescue blocking another effort by Chuco.
It was the Clarets though who would set up a nervous finish for the Blues. In the 87th minute Thompson who had come onto replace Fletcher after 68 minutes ran on to a good pass from Cork to slide the ball coolly past Hart to make it 2-1.
There were no real chances after that for the Clarets to equalise though and that terrible record of 17 away defeats in a season had been achieved.
Birmingham City: Hart, Ridgewell, Johnson, Parnaby (Fahey 79), Gregory Vignal, Bowyer, Larsson, Ferguson, Jerome (Carsley 90), Benitez, McFadden (Marcos Madera 66),
Subs not used: Taylor, Murphy, Tainio, Redmond
Goals: Jensen o.g (29), Benitez (41)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Vignal and Parnaby
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Caldwell, Cort, Fox, Alexander (McDonald 86), Elliott, Cork, Paterson, Nugent (Blake 65), Fletcher (Thompson 68)
Subs not used: Weaver, Duff, Bikey, Rodriguez
Goal: Thompson (87)
Booked: Yellow Card for Fox
Possession: 54% Birmingham, 46% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Peter Walton (Northants)