Six Minutes of Bliss Converts Hell to Heaven
Saturday 11th September 2010 @5:15pm Kick Off
Three goals in the last six minutes of normal time gave Burnley a remarkable 4-3 victory over Preston at Turf Moor on Saturday in the first Lancashire derby of the season A hat-trick from Chris Iwelumo and a final winning header from Jay Rodriguez in the end sent Clarets fans home deliriously happy but at 3-1 down with 20 minutes to go it could have been such a different story.
There was no doubt that a turning-point in this game was the sending-off of Preston right back, Billy Jones with just twelve minutes to go and with the Clarets already 3-1 down and looking down and out. Already on a yellow card, Jones delayed taking a throw in for far too long despite, Kevin Friend the referee telling him to get a move on. The frustrated referee had no option but to show him a yellow card for time wasting closely followed by a red one for the second bookable offence. With Preston now down to ten men this seemed to be the boost that the Clarets needed and suddenly we went on the rampage having looked woeful and totally outclassed for virtually the first 80 minutes of this game.
Brian Laws had selected a fairly predictable starting eleven and subs bench for this match. With Tyrone Mears sitting out a one-match automatic ban after being sent off against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium before the International break, David Edgar was given the nod and he lined up at right back. There had been some doubt too that Chris Iwelumo would be fit enough to play having picked up a hamstring injury late on in the Swansea game. He had missed the two Euro 2012 qualifying matches for Scotland during the International break but thankfully had recovered in time to play for the Clarets against Preston. Michael Duff had also recovered from his calf injury but had to be content with a place on the bench. Brian Jensen, in goal was making his 250th appearance for the Clarets as we lined-up as follows:
Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Wallace, Elliott, Marney, Paterson, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Duff, Cort, Cork, Eagles, Thompson, Rodriguez
On a sunny but windswept and showery day, the match got underway in front of what could only be described as a disappointing crowd for such an important derby game. True this was a late kick-off because the match was televised live on BBC2, but even so only 15,509 bothered to turn up and unoccupied seats could be seen in all areas of the ground. Preston`s following in particular was pretty pathetic and could be a sign of the times with the club struggling at the wrong end of the table. After many seasons of being there or there about for a play-offs spot, they finished 17th last season, a very poor season by their standards not helped either by their indifferent start to 2010-11. Burnley on the other hand experienced the dizzy heights of the Premier League last season of course and rarely had crowds below 20,000. The drop back down to the Championship also seems to have affected our enthusiasm and some of the fair-weather fans seem to be staying away this season which is a shame albeit predictably expected. Their loss though considering the final outcome of this match!
It was the Clarets who looked the more nervous though at the start of this game with Preston looking the most likely to open the scoring. This was despite the fact that Preston had yet to score away from home this season, let alone get a point. In the early stages, Jensen had to save well from Keith Treacy before Fox blocked an attempt from Manchester United loan, Josh King.
Very much against the run of play though it was the Clarets who took the lead on nine minutes when Chris Iwelumo headed home following a corner from the left by former Preston winger, Ross Wallace. It wasn`t clear at first if the ball had crossed the line but the officials seemed to be in no doubt and the goal was awarded. Treacy seemed to fluff his clearance attempt with the ball hitting Preston keeper, Lonergan who appeared to knock the ball away to safety. BBC 2 slow-motion though clearly showed the ball was well over the line and that the officials were spot on. 1-0 Clarets!
If the Officials got that one right they failed however to spot the handball that led to Preston`s equaliser on 23 minutes. A long punt by Lonergan into the heart of the Burnley defence caused havoc and panic. Jon Parkin knocked the ball down to Adam Barton but the referee failed to spot that Barton had helped the ball on with the aid of his hand. Clear on goal he let rip with a shot that beat Jensen to make the score 1-1.
Nine minutes later and Clarets fans hearts sank as Preston took the lead. Treacy had earlier clipped the bar and now the former Blackburn Rovers player would rub salt into the wounds by thumping in a low angled-shot into the far corner of the net to put the visitors ahead for the first time.
Things threatened to boil over just before half time after an incident between Elliott and Jones. With both players having a go at each other a melee ensued with virtually all the players on both sides threatening to get involved after rushing over. The referee stepped in to try and calm things down before eventually booking both protagonists. The yellow card would prove far more costly for Jones but for the moment that was it and the Clarets went in at half-time 2-1 down
It was clear based on the first half that our tactics were simply not working. We seemed to lack width and Paterson in particular was having a 'bad day at the office` out wide with nobody really supporting Iwelumo as our lone striker. Iwelumo had done virtually nothing since scoring the opening goal and it is clear he needs a partner upfront as events would later prove. Paterson would seem the ideal candidate but Laws seems to persist in trying to make him a winger. 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 seems a risky strategy at the moment and perhaps it is time to shake up the starting eleven and move to 4-4-2. I would like to see both Chris Eagles and Jack Cork start with Paterson supporting Iwelumo up front.
Despite the obvious problems based on our first half performance, it was perhaps surprising we came out for the second half without making any changes to the team or formation.
The Clarets though to be fair showed early promise at the start of the second half and Lonergan had to turn away a thunderous shot from Dean Marney as Burnley desperately sought the equaliser . About the hour mark, Laws decided it was time for Plan B. He made a double substitution with Chris Eagles and Jack Cork coming on to replace Paterson and Marney. On 67 minutes it was time for another change with Laws now trying to add to our fire power up front by bringing on Jay Rodriguez to partner Chris Iwelumo up front. A defender though had to be sacrificed to make the change and it was David Edgar who drew the short straw. It was perhaps surprising though that Wade Elliott dropped back into the right back spot. He had looked arguably one of the more impressive midfielders and the one most likely to set up a chance.
On the break, though the Clarets fell further behind on 70 minutes and it was Elliott who perhaps should have done better after finding himself out of position. Treacy got in a left footed cross to find Jon Parkin who expertly let rip with a side-footed volley that gave Jensen no chance. 3-1 Preston and now the game looked truly over for the Clarets but little did we know at this stage what fate would deliver.
Burnley stepped on the throttle a little bit after the goal but it all looked a bit forlorn. Jack Cork thumped the ball just over the top before Eagles went on a run and delivered a superb cross only for the Chelsea loan midfielder to see his header blocked by the arm of Jones amidst claims for a penalty. Jones luck though was about to run out after being booked a second time, this time for time wasting from a throw-in after 78 minutes. The red card decision incensed Preston manager, Darren Ferguson but it was just the tonic the Clarets needed with the impossible about to happen.
With the Clarets now in overdrive, Lonergan first had to contend with a low shot from Rodriguez which he managed to save at full stretch. He had no chance though with Iwelumo`s stunning shot after 84 minutes which reduced the arrears to 3-2. Iwelumo picked up a pass from Alexander and volleyed sweetly into the net from the edge of the area to give all Clarets fans the faintest of hopes.
Sensationally the Clarets drew level four minutes later and again it was an Alexander-Iwelumo double act. This time Iwelumo rose to get in a glancing header from Alexander`s cross with the ball flying into the far corner of the net to make it remarkably all square but there was still more to come!
A shell-shocked Preston fell apart 60 seconds later as Burnley completed a remarkable comeback to take all three-points. As the ball came over from a Wallace corner, there was Jay Rodriguez virtually unmarked to head home and complete a miserable day all round for Preston fans. All they could do was head back down the M65 completely heartbroken after seeing their team snatch defeat from certain victory. They also probably heard two chants generously given to them by delighted Clarets fans ringing in their ears- '3-1 and you ****** it up 'along with 'Wallace, Wallace what`s the score` the latter a chant the Preston fans tried to inflict on us with the score at 3-1 only to be given it back at 4-3!
What a remarkable day for the Ferguson family it was too! Sir Alex was at Turf Moor yesterday flanked by Alastair Campbell and Mike Phelan. He was there of course to watch his son`s team`s performance which included two of his players out on loan to Preston. Both Joshua King and Matty James though were stretchered off in this game which must be a concern with news awaited of their injuries. However, that aside it was a remarkable co-incidence for both father and son to lose 3-1 leads away from home on the same day. Manchester United of course had earlier lost a 3-1 lead in added time against Everton at Goodison Park with the Toffees earning a point in a 3-3 draw. The Clarets though went one better!
Anyway who cares about the Fergusons? 4-3 Clarets! What can you say? In the end a fantastic end result with the Clarets now in 5th spot on 10 points still just 3 points behind the league leaders, QPR. In contrast, Preston are now third from bottom with just three points from five games! Time to celebrate maybe but let`s be clear for 80 minutes of this game we were not at the races and that must be a worry. We are being lucky at the moment and somehow picking up points despite playing badly for large periods. They say you need that sort of luck to get promotion but we really do need to start playing with more consistency if we are to ensure we are not going to rely on this luck all season. At times we seem just too slow in the build up in midfield and we seriously have to question whether Iwelumo is going to be able to hack it alone up front all season. This win though will do no harm to Brian Laws street cred. Laws is gradually building more and more respect from Clarets fans although at 3-1 down there a few rumblings that suggested otherwise. Preston sorted, now bring on Bolton!
Burnley: Jensen, Edgar (Rodriguez 67), Bikey, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Wallace, Elliott, Marney (Cork 58), Paterson (Eagles 58), Iwelumo
Subs Not Used: Grant, Duff, Cort, Thompson
Goals: Iwelumo 9, 84, 88 and Rodriguez 90
Booked: Elliott 25
Preston: Lonergan, Morgan, Davidson, St.Ledger, Jones, James (Russell 54), Coutts (Hayes 65), Treacy, Barton, King (Parry 28), Parkin
Subs Not Used: Arestidou, W.Brown, Gray, C.Brown
Goals: Barton 23, Treacy 32, Parkin 70
Booked: Jones was Red-Carded for Two Yellow Cards (25,78), Yellow also for Morgan 51, St.Ledger 90
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Possession: 56% Burnley, 44% Preston (Source: BBC Sport)
Wade Elliott seems to have brought out mixed emotions in fans with some rating him highly for his effort in midfield with others feeling he fell short of quality despite his energy.
Chris Iwelumo went AWOL for long periods of this game after scoring his first goal but let`s face it anybody who gets a hat-trick in the end whilst scoring two stunning goals has to be a strong contender for a Star Player award. Well done Chris!