Clarets Get One for the Road at Loftus Road!
Saturday 30th October 2010 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets got a well-earned point against QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday after drawing 1-1 to the club who were league leaders before this game and had not conceded a goal at home.
With Cardiff beating Norwich 3-1 at home, our result against QPR knocked them down to second place with the Welsh club now sitting proud at the top of the league. They are now 11 points clear of the Clarets who slip one place to 8th. We are now just one of a host of clubs fighting for one of the automatic places and play-off spots. Just three points separate Doncaster Rovers in 15th spot and Reading who are currently 6th. You would have taken a point before this game but with a bit more luck and less panic in front of goal we could have easily won this match, something we have still to achieve on the road in the Championship this season. You just sense somehow we are lacking something to really push for an automatic promotion place this season despite this excellent point.
Queens Park Rangers though look to have peaked too early and could become a busted flush now despite still being undefeated in the league this season. We certainly held our own against them and at times looked by far the better team especially in the first half. Cardiff City could well be the club to beat now but already 11 points clear of the Clarets it is going to be an uphill battle to catch them unless they hit a bad run of form. With QPR now in second place still having nine points more than Burnley, the automatic promotion place is looking increasingly out of our reach unless we can start playing consistently , win a few away games and stop stuttering at home like we did recently against Reading.
A mystery stomach bug hit the Burnley camp before this game and Brian Laws was forced to make a number of changes. It would appear up to six players were doubtful ahead of the match. It is unclear though who was eventually selected on merit and who played because somebody else was ill but either way the eighteen finally chosen had more of a feel of the Carling Cup Villa game in midweek than the last Championship match against Reading.
Leon Cort returned from a one-match suspension after sitting out the Villa match in midweek but he had to be content with a place on the bench. Andre Bikey too found himself on the bench with Michael Duff getting the nod in the centre of defence partnering Clarke Carlisle. Captain, Graham Alexander also retained his place in the team after a good, solid performance against Villa last Wednesday night. He took over his traditional holding midfield role with perhaps surprisingly Jack Cork not even in the starting eleven.
Brian Jensen was also on the bench with Lee Grant given his first chance to shine in a Championship game after only featuring in Carling Cup games until now. One can perhaps assume 'The Beast` was one of the players feeling under the weather, since he was denied playing his 100th consecutive league game for the Clarets. On the face of it, unless he was a bit unwell that seems a tadge harsh from Brian Laws .A number of Clarets fans though had been calling for Grant to start despite the fact that Jensen has not really done anything wrong this season despite being on the receiving end of four goals in our last league game at home to Reading.
Chris Eagles also returned to the starting eleven after being rested for the Carling Cup clash.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Subs: Jensen, Cort, Bikey, Cork, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
Berkshire referee got the match underway on a showery day in Shepherd`s Bush and it was the Clarets who came storming out of the blocks first in these early stages taking the game to the league leaders. The early pressure led to a couple of corners for the Clarets but both of them came to nothing.
QPR did not have their first real chance until the 16th minute. The Rs top scorer this season, Jamie Mackie latched onto a mishit shot from Derry and looked certain to score until Duff came from nowhere to rob the striker and rescue the situation.
Paddy Kenny then had to come to the Rs rescue at the other end midway through the first half. The keeper got a glove to Elliott`s curled attempt pushing the ball round the post. It was Kenny again a minute later who this time denied Jay Rodriguez after spilling a shot from Eagles from the edge of the area. Jay Rod latched onto the loose ball to shoot before Kenny blocked the shot to save his blushes.
Eagles looked like he might have earned the Clarets a penalty after 30 minutes after steaming into the box and being brought down under pressure from a challenge by Clint Hill. The ref though decided he had dived and Eagles earned a yellow card instead!
Three minutes later though and very much against the run of play QPR took the lead. Adel Taarabt created some space for himself before drilling home his unstoppable curled shot from 25 yards into the top corner of the net.
Neil Warnock`s men must have thought they would now have an easy ride to victory but they did not account for Burnley`s resilience and determination to get back into this game.
Eagles tried a long-distance daisy-cutter but it didn`t cause too much problem for Kenny who easily snuffed out the danger at his near post.
Just one minute before half-time though, the Clarets equalised at the best possible time after being awarded a penalty. Fox got in a deep cross to find Iwelumo in the box. He headed down for Dean Marney to pounce. Connolly though clumsily bundled Marney over in the area giving the referee this time no option but to award the spot kick.
Clarets fans were wondering who would now take the penalty. Chris Eagles had been taking them in the absence of Alexander and had a 100% record but Grezza was now back. There was an element of doubt though about Grezza taking it remembering he had missed his first one for the Clarets in the Bristol City game at Turf Moor recently before losing his place in the team.
It was Grezza though who elected to take the penalty and thankfully he had no psychological hang ups thumping the home into the top corner of the net in convincing style to make the scores level at half time.
Ross Wallace perhaps surprisingly replaced Chris Eagles for the start of the second half but Laws probably had some concern over Eagles yellow card and the fact the ref had also spoken to him a couple of times since. The Clarets could not afford to have him sent off so the change made logical sense.
The Clarets started the second half brightly just like the first. Rodriguez was certainly in the thick of things and he seemed to be able to do anything but score. He spun to shoot from 25 yards out but the ball flew wide of target. Jay Rod then saw another shot cannon off the bar but it would not have counted anyway with the ref indicating offside.
With fifteen minutes to go Iwelumo nearly put the Clarets ahead with a shot after Wallace had cut back the ball to him. The ball though went agonisingly over the angle from ten yards out.
On 80 minutes, it was Rodriguez again who came close after picking up a deflected ball from Elliott in the box. His shinned attempt to score though bobbled wide of Kenny`s right post.
QPR though now came back into it and gave Clarets fans an agonising time as the clock ticked down and five minutes of added time were announced. Gorkss first of all thumped a ball miles over the bar from 12 yards out and with two minutes of normal time to go Jamie Mackie nearly stole it for the Rs. Grant was at full stretch but his shot was screwed wide of target and the Clarets could once again breathe a sigh of relief.
Half way through added time, Rs substitute, Tommy Smith gave the Clarets some more jitters. He curled a magnificent attempt just wide of Grant`s far post but somehow we held on after sweating under the pressure in these last few minutes of the game.
It was a blessed relief when the final whistle blew but in the end it was a job well down as we once again came away with something from Loftus Road. We might not have won on this particular road but one of these days we will win one for the road!
Up the Clarets!
QPR: Kenny, Hill, Gorkss, Walker, Connolly, Derry, Taarabt (Smith 82), Faurlin, Ephraim (Agyemang 62), Mackie, Hulse (Clarke 74)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Orr, Leigertwood, Rowlands
Goal: Taarabt 32
Booked: Yellow cards for Gorkss, Taarabt and Mackie
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Marney, Elliott, Eagles (Wallace 46), Iwelumo (Thompson 83), Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Cort, Bikey, Cork, Paterson
Goal: Alexander (pen) 45
Booked: Yellow cards for Duff, Alexander and Eagles
Possession: 48% QPR, 52% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)