Swans Inflict First Season Defeat on Clarets
Saturday 28th August 2010 @ 3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets lost their unbeaten record for this season going down 1-0 to Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. The defeat still leaves Burnley well-placed in 5th spot on 7 points and only 3 points off the top three places as we head towards the International break. It would have been nice to go into the break on a high and even a point would have been something to celebrate but it wasn`t to be despite putting the Swans under considerable pressure in the second-half.
As expected, with no further injury or suspensions to worry about, Brian Laws reverted to the eighteen he selected for our last League match at home to Leicester, a match of course we won 3-0. Laws had made nine changes to that team in our Carling Cup 3-1 victory over Morecambe at the Globe Arena in midweek but none of the fringe players did enough to earn a starting eleven place against Swansea. Duff is still recovering from his calf injury and has targeted a return for the Preston derby game after the international break and of course Chris McCann will be sidelined for six months whilst he recovers from the surgery this month to fix his cruciate ligament injury once and for all.
We therefore lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander Marney, Elliott, Wallace, Iwelumo, Paterson
Subs: Grant, Cort, Cork, Edgar, Eagles, Rodriguez, Thompson
Somerset referee, Steve Tanner got the game underway
This was an entertaining match for the neutral with plenty of action and incidents to boot but it was a frustrating one for Clarets fans. We basically lost this game in the first half. After a bright start we lost the plot when Swansea took the lead with just 8 minutes on the clock. It was a sloppy goal to concede as well. The impressive Nathan Dyer set up full back, Alan Tate who had got in behind a woeful Clarets defence to put over a cross along the six-yard line. Despite Cotterill missing with his swing attempt the ball fell to Sinclair who thumped home the ball into the roof of the net.
How we escaped further damage in the first half is beyond me. We were simply woeful and could easily have been 4-0 or 5-0 down by half-time if the Swans had taken their chances.
The opposition teams we have played recently seem to have sensed that our weakness is down the right flank and that if you put left back, Danny Fox under pressure you might reap the rewards. Swansea were no exception with our former loan winger, Nathan Dyer causing all sorts of problems. Tyrone Mears in contrast at right back was given a relatively easy ride. I am not saying Danny Fox is totally to blame, he does need more support from the midfielders chasing back sometimes and at times our midfield in the first half looked plodding and clueless.
Dobbie and Cotterill both failed to convert chances set up by Dyer and after 23 minutes the lively and busy Dyer was at it again this time passing to Pratley who bursting into the box let rip with a shot that rattled off the woodwork with the rising ball hitting the top of the bar.
Our first chance didn`t come really until the half-hour mark when Martin Paterson forced a save after curling a ball towards the top corner. De Vries though snuffed out the threat after flying through the air to get to the ball. Brian Jensen then got in another crucial save at the other end with the Clarets desperately trying not to concede another goal. Sinclair was denied this time.
Iwelumo was then given our best chance to equalise after Wallace put over a perfect cross. He could only head badly wide of target though but at least we were now having a bit more possession. Marney towards the end of the half dragged his shot wide and before that the unmarked Paterson would have been in an ideal position to score had Elliott managed to get the ball to him without being crowded out. 1-0 down then at half-time and not an impressive one for the Clarets
I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the Burnley dressing room at half-time but whatever Laws said seemed to work and we looked a far more confident team in the second half especially in the last half-hour of the game. We just couldn`t get that elusive equaliser though despite our best efforts and there was also the bizarre spectacle on the hour mark of two players being sent off within two minutes! First of all, Swans midfielder, Darren Pratley, already on a yellow card felled Tyrone Mears to earn his marching orders for a second bookable offence on 58 minutes.
Burnley`s hopes of being given an easier task to get the equaliser with Swansea now down to ten men were soon dashed when two minutes later Mears foolishly found himself also walking towards the tunnel. He too was also on a yellow card when a clumsy tackle on Nathan Dyer gave referee, Steve Tanner no option but to show red again.
Laws was clearly not a happy man over the Mears sending-off. He told the media after the game:
'Tyrone Mears has quite clearly got to look at himself. We are professionals and we have to play with our heads and not our hearts. Even the most experienced players lose their heads sometimes.'
I have to say Mears is not the man he was and at times looks disinterested and lacklustre. Whether he has a move in mind or is sulking because nobody has come in for him one can only guess but he needs to snap out of it, if he to keep his place in the team.
Anyway back to the match
Although Burnley looked far more energised and determined in the second half Swansea still looked dangerous on the break and we had to thank Jensen again after Cotterill got in a through-ball to Sinclair who once more had got the better of the Clarets defence. Jensen raced out of the box to get in a perfect tackle to keep the score at 1-0.
After the red cards, fresh legs in the form of Jack Cork, Steve Thompson and Chris Eagles added some sparkle to our play but with Iwelumo playing on after picking up a late hamstring injury, you just sensed this was not going to be our day.
Thompson got on the end of a Fox cross and his glancing header seemed to fool De Vries but luckily for the Swans keeper he managed to rescue the situation at the near post. Eagles was now causing the Swansea defence all sorts of problems as well but somehow they held on. Thompson put a shot just wide and into the last minute of five minutes of added time our last chance to equalise fell to Wallace from a direct free-kick. His shot frustratingly for the Clarets fans dipped just over the bar and that was it our first defeat of 2010-11.
If only we could have played the first forty five minutes like we did in the last thirty minutes of this match, the result may well have been different but then that is football. We have ridden our luck a few times already this season and have come away with points despite not firing on all cylinders. We did not hit top gear for most of this match either especially in the first half and this time we came away without any points so that could be a worry.
Many Clarets fans are asking if we truly have gone down stronger and whether the team of 2010-11 is better, worse or about the same as the one that gained promotion in 2008-9. With Iwelumo now out injured and looking likely to miss out on the Scotland call-up and with the Summer Transfer Window closing tomorrow (Tuesday 31st August @6pm), it begs the question whether Laws might be tempted to do some last minute trading to bolster the squad. It does not look very likely with Laws extolling the virtue of the 'emergency loan` system and having one eye it seems on the Premier League club cast-offs who do make the named 25 man squads. I just hope that once again we are not erring on the cautious side too much.
Next month could prove a significant one for Laws and his relationship with the fans with both Preston (our next match after the international break) and Bolton (Carling Cup Third Round) coming to Turf Moor in September! Win both these games and he could become hero-worshipped! It was great to hear chants of 'Brian Laws Claret & Blue Army` at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday and he could be gradually winning the fans round. The club owe it him to give him every chance of succeeding and if that includes releasing the purse strings then sobeit. Surely we have enough money now?
Swansea: De Vries, Williams, Taylor, Tate, Monk, Cotterill (Allen 62), Pratley, Dyer (Orlandi 69), Sinclair, Gower, Dobbie (Kuqi 78)
Subs Not Used: Cornell, Serran, Lopez, Richards
Booked: Yellow cards for De Vries, Taylor and Pratley. Red Card for Darren Pratley for two bookable offences
Goal: Scott Sinclair (8)
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander (Cork 63), Marney (Eagles 72), Elliott, Wallace, Iwelumo, Paterson (Thompson 68)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Cort, Edgar, Rodriguez
Booked: Yellow cards for Mears, Cork and Thompson. Red Card for Tyrone Mears for two bookable offences
Possession: Swansea 50%, Burnley 50% (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset)
Wado looked more effective than Paterson when he took over the wider role and even when he had to drop into the right back slot following Mears red-card; he was solid in defence so all-round a job well-done. Wade it is then!