First Match, First Win of 2010-11
Saturday 7th August 2010 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets started the new season back in the Championship with a win after defeating Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday thanks to a goal just before half-time by Chris Iwelumo. This could prove to be a valuable three points with Forest along with the Clarets being one of the fancied teams for promotion this season. It was nice also to get our first clean sheet on the board after last season. We had not achieved that since last October!
If truth be known this was by no means a classic match and there were long periods in the game where a neutral might have lost the will to live but it was an encouraging start for the Clarets who are looking to make an immediate return to the Premier League. There is a long way to go yet of course but it is always nice to get your first win under your belt at your first attempt.
I am also delighted for Brian Laws, the man has had to take a lot of stick from quite a few Clarets fans and I too have been critical about the appointment but this is a new season and we have to put behind us the disappointment of last season and our relegation from the top flight. Laws said himself recently that now is the time to judge him and I agree so let`s all now get behind him. I hope we shall soon hear Clarets fans singing once more 'Brian Laws Claret & Blue Army` and that by Christmas we are looking strong candidates for promotion. On the evidence of this first showing against one of the stronger teams in the Championship there are firm grounds for optimism.
Getting back to Saturday`s game, Nottingham Forest gaffer, Billy Davies felt aggrieved his team did not get any reward for their efforts. In fairness he does have a point and maybe they deserved to get one as well. 1-1 would probably have been a fairer result and they certainly put us under pressure at times, especially in the second half. Our defence held solid though although Jensen to be honest had very little to do.
Brian Laws had no injury worries other than Chris McCann who is still suffering from yet another knee injury and worryingly was due to see a specialist last week to gauge the extent of the problem. Clarets fans await hopefully good news on that score.
Laws made it clear after our last pre-season game of the summer against Stoke City at the Galpharm Stadium in Huddersfield a week ago that there could be no clues from his starting line-up in that game for the Championship opener of the new season. In the end though, it was very much the same starting eleven against Forest with only Steven Thompson being the unlucky one. Thommo found himself on the bench with Chris Iwelumo being preferred on his own up front. Iwelumo therefore, along with Marney and Wallace all new signings in the summer were given their competitive debuts for the Clarets with only new keeper, Lee Grant having to be content with a place on the bench.
Our line-up was as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Marney, Elliott, Wallace, Paterson, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Cort, Carlisle, Edgar, Eagles, Thompson, Rodriguez
It was announced this week that 38 year old stalwart, Graham Alexander was now officially our team captain and on this sunny but showery day he led the team out in front of a crowd of 17496 expectant fans. The Forest fans were there in numbers which helped the atmosphere but the electric Turf Moor buzz of our first home game last season in the Premier League was sadly lacking although that was against Manchester United!
Referee, Colin Webster of Tyne & Wear got the match underway and it was soon clear both sides were being hesitant and cautious in the first 20 minutes or so. The game looked to be turning into a midfield scrap with few scoring opportunities. Forest came close to breaking the deadlock on 25 minutes though when Rob Earnshaw in a one-two latched onto a Dexter Blackstock pass and let rip with a thunderous volley that rattled against the bottom of the post after Jensen managed to get his fingertips to the ball.
The Clarets could not at this stage get in the game and Forest continued to threaten on the break. Bikey however was showing his true class in the centre of defence and frustrated Forest time and time again. Michael Duff did not look on form though and seemed to be having trouble with his passing game. It was no surprise when Laws brought him off on the half-hour mark and replaced him with Clarke Carlisle. The substitution worked and we looked even tighter in defence although Forest seemed to be exploiting the perceived weakness of Fox challenging the left-back on numerous occasions down the right flank.
Burnley were now gradually getting back in this game with Wallace and Paterson on the wings beginning to make inroads and at long last putting the Forest defence under some pressure.
The Clarets then got the breakthrough they needed at the best possible time scoring a goal in added time of the first half. Paterson linked well with Elliott who then ran into space before getting in a perfectly flighted right footed cross . There was Chris Iwelumo to open his account with a header that gave Forest keeper, Lee Camp no hope of saving. So it was 1-0 to Burnley at half-time, much to the relief of Clarets fans after a pretty frustrating first half.
Brian Laws made no changes for the start of the second-half and this time it was the Clarets who off to a flying start albeit without increasing their lead. Camp had to scramble away a free kick from Wallace around the post and from the resulting short corner it was Wallace who pounced again this time getting in a cross which was inch-perfect to find Clarke Carlisle. Carlisle`s header though flew just wide.
Forest now came into the game again and it was the Clarets defence who were now under pressure for long spells in the second half. We seemed to have difficulty clearing our lines in familiar fashion but our solid defence held firm despite the Clarets being unable to relieve the pressure by making inroads at the other end. We could easily have conceded a goal during this spell and but for the wayward shooting by the Forest strikers at times we would have. Blackstock and Earnshaw in particular were wreaking havoc and in one attack after 53 minutes linked well to set up the unmarked Nathan Tyson. With only Jensen to beat and an equaliser looking certain he skied his shot over the bar much to the relief of Clarets fans.
The Clarets finally came into the game with 10 minutes remaining and looked a little sharper with Rodriguez coming on to replace Paterson after 77 minutes and Thompson getting at least a five minute run out after replacing Iwelumo on 85 minutes. Both Iwelumo and Thompson had tested Camp with headers after Alexander had crossed in each case.
A lively looking Rodriguez then got in a testing cross from the right to find Marney who headed just wide and that was it. The Clarets had to hold on for four minutes of added time, but hold on they did to secure the first three points of the season at their first attempt
We now face another tough challenge in our next game. We travel to Portman Road next Saturday and Clarets fans will not have failed to notice that Ipswich beat the favorites for promotion, Middlesbrough on Saturday. Their emphatic 3-1 demolition of Middlesbrough at the Riverside will certainly have buoyed them up for their first home game of the season and we are going to have to be on our guard if we are to get anything from this clash in Suffolk next Saturday.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, (Carlisle 30) Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Marney, Elliott, Wallace, Paterson (77), Iwelumo (Thompson 85)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Cort, Edgar, Eagles
Goal: Iwelumo (45 + 1)
Booked: Yellow cards for Mears and Iwelumo
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Bertrand, Morgan, Wilson (Chambers H/T), Gunter, Cohen, McKenna, Moussi (Majewski 82), Earnshaw, Tyson, Blackstock (Anderson 69)
Subs Not Used: Darlow, McGugan, Adebola, McCleary.
Booked: Yellow card for Morgan
Possession (Source BBC Sport): Burnley 59%, Forest 41%
Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear)
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