Clarets Suffer a 2 Point Steal in Steel City!
Saturday 16th October 2010 @ 3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets came within a minute of winning their first away league game of the season against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday. It looked like game over for the Blades when Jay Rodriguez scored our third goal in the 90th minute to give the Clarets a 3-2 lead. Five minutes of added time though was announced and we just could not hold on falling to a sucker punch after Mark Yeates equalised for Sheffield United four minutes into injury time to break all Clarets fans hearts.
This certainly felt like two points lost rather than a point gained especially since the Clarets were also leading 2-0 at one point after we scored two second half goals during a five minute spell. The first half had been a pretty dire, uninspiring affair but the Clarets had at least managed to snuff out the Blades threat in open play with most of their chances coming from set pieces. The oft used expression 'game of two halves` was about to be used again though and the match was transformed into a thrilling affair for the neutral in the second half with eventually six goals being scored.
Dean Marney broke the deadlock in the 49th minute with a header and then Chris Eagles scored from the spot after Tyrone Mears had been felled in the box. The Clarets were now cruising but totally against the run of play the Blades were given a lifeline when they pulled a goal back in the 57th minute after Daniel Bogdanovic raced clear to score following an unfortunate slip by Mears. Despite that setback the Clarets took control of the match again and a victory looked on the cards before substitute, Lowton made it 2-2 from a Yeates' cut-back in the 82nd minute. Damn so now we would have to settle for a draw but wait in the final minute of normal time Rodriguez stole into the box to fire home a low finish to make it 3-2. Surely that was it now, our first away victory on the road? Football is a cruel game though and it was the Blades who would have the last laugh in the final minute of injury time. It was former Clarets left back Stephen Jordan, who had come on as a substitute, who was involved in the goal too. His cross was picked up by Yeates who scored with a shot from 18 yards out.
Sheffield United before this game had been pretty goal shy being one of the lowest scoring clubs in the Championship. Typical they should find three goals from somewhere against the Clarets although I suppose they did not get the total revenge they wanted after Wembley 2009. We must learn how to kill games off though, no team should really let a two goal advantage slip away and then compound that by conceding late into injury time after getting what looked like a 90th minute winner.
Brian Laws said after the game:
'When you`re 2-0 up you want to win games but we lacked a bit of organisation and leadership. We defended too deep; it felt like the defenders were playing behind the goalkeeper at one point`
A victory would have seen the Clarets in 4th spot but now we have to settle for 8th but at least we are still very much in contention especially with two home games coming up next. We face Barnsley on Tuesday night and then Reading on the Saturday. Six points from those two games could see us well-placed in the top six but for the moment we have to be happy with 17 points from 11 games, just 3 points behind third place Norwich. League leaders QPR on 27 points seem uncatchable at the moment although they had to settle for a point after a 0-0 draw at home to Norwich on Saturday, We also have to hope that second place Cardiff don`t start running away with it if we want to keep in sight of an automatic promotion place. They beat Bristol City 3-2 at home and are now 6 points ahead of the Clarets.
Brian Laws had some good news and bad news ahead of the Blades game. Andre Bikey was declared fit to play despite concern that his rib injury could have kept him sidelined. We lost both central defenders in our last match away to Millwall. Bikey had to be substituted since he could not carry on with the rib injury he had picked up earlier but just before that Carlisle was sensationally and controversially sent-off in the seventh minute following a straight red so he had to sit out the first of his automatic three-match ban against the Blades . On the day though, he was usefully employed instead in the Clarets World commentary box and he also revealed on air why Michael Duff was not in the eighteen. Leon Cort partnered Bikey in the back four centre of defence when most Clarets fans would have expected Michael Duff to be given his chance. It turned out that the unfortunate Duff picked up an injury in training and the particularly bad news was that it was a reoccurrence of the calf problem that had kept him sidelined earlier in the season.
With Alexander once again on the bench and with Carlisle suspended the role of captaincy was given to Wade Elliott. Elliott had taken over the armband following Carlisle`s dismissal at Millwall and had coped admirably leading his team to a well-earned point despite being down to ten-men.
Jack Cork was given the holding midfield role again with Iwelumo once more alone up front flanked by Eagles and Rodriguez. Richard Eckersley got a rare call up to the bench and David Edgar was also in the eighteen despite speculation this week that he could be leaving Turf Moor on loan.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Cort, Bikey, Fox, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Eckersley, Edgar, Alexander, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
Brian Laws had to run the gauntlet of the Blades fans as the two teams came out. The traditional welcome (cough!) afforded to someone with strong connections to the other club in the Steel City did not go unnoticed. In a little bit of irony though both sides suffered a double defeat to Laws Owls team in the 2008-9 season but it was the Clarets of course who had the upper hand against the Blades defeating them three times that season including of course the most important of all at Wembley in the Championship Play-Offs final. The Blades would certainly be looking for revenge just as much as Burnley would be looking for their first league away win of the season.
Tyne & Wear referee, Eddie Ilderton got the match underway on a cold steel day in Sheffield and it was the Blades who looked the sharper (ahem!) in the opening minutes of the game. There was an early scare for the Clarets when Johnny Ertle was given far too much space to rifle in a shot. Jensen came to the rescue though when at full stretch he managed to touch the ball over the crossbar.
The Clarets though now gradually began to take control of the game and United found further scoring opportunities limited especially from open play. It was not an exciting game in the first half by any means but more of a job professionally well done by the Clarets as they snuffed out any threat from the Blades. Burnley did have a couple of chances at the other end though. A corner by Fox after 28 minutes nearly broke the deadlock. Bikey got on the end of it but his header downwards bounced over the bar.
Chris Eagles, someone else with Owls connections after a loan spell at Hillsborough, was causing the Blades defence all sorts of problems and during one attack he linked well with Elliott getting over a cross that Iwelumo just failed to latch onto.
Burnley then began to rue their missed chances with the Blades coming more into the game. A low drive by Alan Quinn on 34 minutes skidded towards goal but Jensen snuffed out the danger after diving to his left to save well. A spate of dangerous set-pieces followed testing the resolve of the Clarets defence. Jay Rodriguez found himself harshly booked for a foul on De Laet and from the free kick Yeates shot was deflected wide. With five minutes of the first half remaining, the unfortunate Rodriguez gave away another free kick after this time handling the ball. Yeates this time found his sizzler from 25 yards out hit the foot of the post.
Goalless at half time it was then with the Clarets having had the lion`s share of possession in the first 45 minutes without being impressive.
Brian Laws kept with the same eleven for the start of the second-half and once again the Blades gave the Clarets an early scare. It was that man, Yeates again who within a minute of the restart got in a shot on the edge of the penalty area once more testing Jensen. Jensen once more passed the test turning the ball over the top.
The Clarets though now found their goal-scoring touch and within five minutes had taken a two goal lead.
On 49 minutes, Eagles got over yet another cross and there was Dean Marney timing his run into the penalty area to perfection before getting in a glancing header past Simonsen to score his first goal for the club and put the Clarets 1-0 up.
Marney was again involved minutes later when he went on a charge which eventually led to Tyrone Mears being fouled in the penalty area by De Laet. Alexander must have been wondering from the bench if he would ever get chance to take a penalty again but the honour was given to Chris Eagles who fired home from the spot into the top corner of the net to make it 2-0.
Burnley were now in the ascendency and we should have gone on to win this game but an unfortunate slip by Tyrone Mears against the run of play gave the Blades a lifeline on 57 minutes.
Mears looked to have the ball under control but he accidentally slipped giving the opportunity for Bogdanovic to pounce. The former Barnsley striker ran towards goal sliding a shot into the bottom corner of the net to make the score 2-1 with the effect of livening up the home crowd who now sensed all was not over.
Fox was lucky to only pick up a yellow card for a challenge a few minutes later and in so doing he also picked up an injury with David Edgar coming on to replace him at left back.
With 16 minutes left to play, Laws then made a double substitution bringing on Wallace and Thompson to replace Chris Eagles (who had thrown everything into this game )and Iwelumo.
The fresh legs would hopefully stifle the Blades who by now were desperately seeking the equaliser and putting the Clarets under some pressure.
It almost had the desired effect immediately with Wallace creating a chance for Rodriguez. Jay Rod though could not head his attempt past the Blades keeper and now the home crowd scented blood again.
The Blades fans got what they wanted with just eight minutes of normal time remaining. A deflected cross from Yeates fell kindly to substitute, Matthew Lowton and he scored from eight yards out. This was his first senior goal for the Blades and it made up for the fact that he had already picked up a yellow card after coming on from the bench in the 78th minute.
Clarets fans just got used to the idea of settling for a point when on 90 minutes, Mears atoned for his earlier slip by charging down the flank to get in a superb pass to Jay Rodriguez. Jay Rod`s low thumping shot went across Simonsen into the far corner of the net to make the score 3-2 Clarets!
Jack Cork on the break nearly put the game definitely beyond the Blades reach moments later but his shot was put wide.
Surely that was it now but the bad omens were there when the fourth official announced five minutes of added time. It was a cruel blow in the fourth minute of added time when the Blades struck again to equalise. It was rather ironic too that it came from a pass from Stephen Jordan our former left back who had come on a substitute to replace De Laet in the 85th minute. His pass found Blades man of the match, Yeates who slotted home to make it heartbreak for all Clarets fans.
Sheffield United: Simonsen, Nosworthy, Morgan, Calve, De Laet (Jordan 85), Ertl (Lowton 78), Britton, Yeates, Quinn, Bogdanovic (Evans 69), Cresswell
Subs Not Used: Wright, Bartley, Slew, Montgomery
Goals: Bogdanovic 57, Lowton 82, Yeates 90+4
Booked: Yellow cards for Britton and Lowton
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Cort, Bikey, Fox(Edgar 66), Cork, Eagles(Wallace 75), Marney, Elliott, Rodriguez, Iwelumo(Thompson 74),
Subs Not Used: Grant, Alexander, Eckersley, Paterson
Goals: Marney 49, Eagles (pen) 54, Rodriguez 90
Booked: Rodriguez, Fox
Possession: 52 % Sheffield United, 48% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne&Wear)