Clarets Fail To Buzz Yet Sting the Hornets
Saturday 13th November 2010 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets beat Watford 3-2 at Turf Moor on Saturday to climb into the play-offs places. Their first victory in five league games saw the Clarets move up three places to sixth position and they are now just nine points behind second placed club, QPR who could only manage a 0-0 draw away to Forest yesterday. Cardiff though are now the leaders after thumping Scunthorpe 4-2 at Glandford Park and they now top the table on 36 points, ten points clear of the Clarets. Thankfully though we are still in contention with the chasing pack for a play-offs place and if we could just put a good run together and start winning away we could still be pressing for an automatic promotion place come Christmas.
This was a strange game though with Burnley fans fearing the worst for most of this match with another defeat on home soil unthinkable. Chris Iwelumo put the Clarets ahead on 25 minutes. We failed to capitalise on the lead though and let Watford come at us with the Hornets equalising just five minutes later. It was 1-1 then at half-time and the start of the second half was less than inspirational. We were not playing well at all and started to make silly mistakes in defence and put ourselves under pressure. It was no surprise when Watford took the lead on 57 minutes after Martin Taylor headed home. By now the Clarets seemed clueless with lots of fans pleading with Laws to do something. At long last he did in the 66th minute making a double substitution with Wallace and Thompson coming on to replace a lacklustre Elliott and by now a flagging and ineffective Iwelumo. The change seemed to invigorate the Clarets and they stepped up a gear with Wallace in particular showing the energy and determination to get the game back on track.
His effort paid off in the 70th minute when he met a cross from Chris Eagles to fire home from six yards out and make the score 2-2. The Clarets now had their tails up and began to put the Watford defence under pressure. During one such attack, Rodriguez was fouled in the area on 77 minutes and the referee awarded a penalty. Grezza thumped the spot kick into the top corner to give the Clarets a 3-2 lead. We played out the rest of the game without much incident and in the end we were worthy of three points after showing such spirit in fighting back.
Laws was forced to make three changes to the team that could only manage a disappointing draw in midweek at home to Doncaster Rovers. Danny Fox had been stretchered off in that game with suspected ankle ligament damage and was sidelined for the Watford clash. Brian Easton was given the nod at left back for only his second league start this season. Martin Paterson was also still suffering with a thigh strain which he picked up towards the end of the first half against Donny. Leading goal-scorer, Chris Iwelumo therefore returned to the starting eleven but once again Laws refused to abandon the lone striker system up front with Jay Rodriguez once more playing a wider role with Eagles on the opposite flank.
With Graham Alexander leading out the team and with Jack Cork also selected in midfield there was no room for Dean Marney and he had to be content with a place on the bench. Andre Bikey was also named on the bench after recovering from a persistent rib injury.
In summary we lined up as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Easton, Alexander, Eagles, Cork, Elliott, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Jensen, Cort, Edgar, Bikey, Marney, Wallace, Thompson.
Following a one-minute silence in honour of Remembrance Day duly respected by both sets of fans, Staffordshire referee Chris Sarginson got the match underway and it was Burnley who had the better of the early chances. Jay Rodriguez headed just wide from 12 yards with only three minutes on the clock.
Wade Elliott got in a shot which was narrowly off target before Chris Eagles forced an excellent save from Hornets goalkeeper Scott Loach.
The game was however now developing into a pretty drab affair and in the first twenty minutes the only real chance for the Clarets came from a corner by Alexander. Duff though headed off target.
The game livened up though on 25 minutes when the Clarets finally broke the deadlock. A free-kick taken by Lee Grant deep in our own half found Jay Rodriguez who headed with brilliant accuracy into the path of the diving Iwelumo. The Scottish international headed home from twelve yards out to notch up his 9th league goal of the season and put the Clarets 1-0 up.
Burnley should have been spurred on by that goal but instead they seemed to take their foot off the accelerator and let Watford come back at them. Within five minutes they had equalised . Cowie should have scored for Watford after being put clear by Hornets skipper John Eustace on 29 minutes. In a one-to-one on the keeper he fluffed his shot much to the relief of all Clarets fans but one minute later Cowie would make amends and put his side level after some shockingly poor defending
Carlisle and Elliott got in a muddle to allow Dan Cowie a run on goal and he calmly hit a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net past Grant. We only had ourselves to blame and that goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of us. We had few opportunities in the first half after that goal although in the final minute of the half we nearly got our noses in front again. Former Rovers defender, Martin Taylor felled Chris Eagles to earn a booking and from 25 yards out, Tyrone Mears took the free-kick. He thumped a curling ball towards target only to see Scott Loach dive at full stretch to save the danger. All square, 1-1 at half-time then and Hornets manager, Malky Mackay who would have been the happier of the two gaffers.
Although the Clarets looked to come out with more determination the momentum soon seemed to evaporate and the task was even harder when the Hornets took the lead on 57 minutes. A corner by Mulch was inch perfect for Martin Taylor who couldn`t believe his luck with nobody challenging him. He was given far too much room to head home and put Watford in the lead for the first time.
Burnley just didn`t seem to have any answers now and the game seemed to be slipping away from us. It needed a Plan B, but when would Laws do something about it? The game now became a very frustrating affair to watch for all Clarets fans and you could sense some unease developing against the manager. Watford were now in the ascendency and could have punished us further but thankfully McGinn missed a couple of good chances to put the Hornets beyond reach.
Brian Laws finally decided enough was enough and made a double substitution with 24 minutes of the match remaining. Wallace and Thompson came on to replace Elliott and Iwelumo with Laws hoping to inject some pace and firepower into our attack. He also thankfully changed the system to 4-4-2 and by heck it worked too!
We had equalised within four minutes after Cork combined well with Chris Eagles. Eagles on the right flank crossed over and there was Wallace dashing in from the left to thump the ball home with a deft side-footed volley into the roof of the net.
The Clarets boosted by the equaliser now at long last began to turn the screw looking to retake the lead and secure a vital three points to keep our promotion dreams alive.
It was Wallace again who got in the thick of things putting over countless crosses to test the Hornets defence and from one such cross we got a penalty awarded after Rodriguez was judged to have been brought down by Taylor as he rose to head home. Watford protested like the clappers but to no avail. Alexander coolly slotted home the spot kick with a little help from the underside of the bar and the Clarets, looking dead and buried on the hour mark were now back in front.
Watford, obviously incensed by the penalty decision, were not going to give in just yet though and Grant had to keep out first Mutch with an excellent save and then Hornets substitute, Sordell deep into added time. Five minutes of added time were announced but we finished up playing seven with all Clarets fans desperate for the ref to blow the final whistle! In the end victory was ours but there are certainly a few lessons to learn from this match. I hope one is that 4-4-2 could be the way forward from now on!
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Easton, Alexander, Eagles (Marney 90+2), Cork, Elliott (Wallace 66), Rodriguez, Iwelumo (Thompson 66)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Cort, Bikey
Goals: Iwelumo 25, Wallace 70, Alexander (pen) 77
Booked: Yellow cards for Cork, Eagles
Watford: Loach, A Taylor, M Taylor, Mariappa, Doyley, Eustace, Cowie, McGinn (Sordell 82), Mutch, Deeney, Graham (Buckley 90+7)
Subs Not Used: Gilmartin, Hodson, Bennett, Walker, Bryan
Goals: Cowie 30, M Taylor 57
Booked: Yellow cards for M.Taylor, Eustace, Mutch
Possession: 49% Burnley, 51% Watford (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Chris Sarginson (Staffordshire)
The fact that the fans texted vote also gave the Man of the Match award to Wallace speaks volumes proving just what a disappointment the first 60 odd minutes of this game had become.
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