Burnley are the Valiant Ones not Port Vale!
Saturday 8th January 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets had a fairly routine day at the office in the FA Cup third round clash against League 2 Port Vale at Turf Moor. They came out victors against the Valiants beating the Staffordshire club 4-2 to progress to the fourth round draw.
Port Vale to their credit made a game of it and there were a few shaky moments for the Clarets with our defence at times looking woeful. Lee Grant too has still not kept a clean sheet since replacing Jensen and was certainly culpable for Vale`s second goal with the Clarets already cruising 4-1 in front. Not for the first time this season he decided to parry the goal in a dangerous situation allowing Vale`s Robert Taylor to score and make the score 4-2 on 82 minutes. It was Taylor`s second goal of the afternoon. He had earlier stunned the Clarets fans by equalising on 15 minutes after Burnley had gone ahead in the 4th minute, thanks to a well-taken headed goal from Carlisle.
The Clarets though looked comfortable for most of the game, especially when Mears scored from a free-kick on 21 minutes and Eagles then made it 3-1 five minutes into the second half. It was certainly game over when Alexander scored from the spot on 76 minutes and a late consolation goal from Vale made very little difference.
Vale though under new manager Jim Gannon could be proud of their performance and at times they looked quite impressive and were certainly a credit to League 2. In the end we were simply too strong for them but the fans, who came in their numbers and were vocal throughout the game even at 4-1 down, should not be too disheartened.
Caretaker manager, Stuart Gray made a few changes to the eighteen but perhaps not as many as expected and he also reverted back to 4-5-1 with a very similar team to that tried by Brian Laws in the earlier part of the season. I was a bit disappointed by that to be honest and watching Stuart Gary in the dugout, he seemed pretty passionless throughout the game and looked like he was resigned to soon leaving Turf Moor.
A lot of Clarets had expected Brian Jenson to be given a run-out but he stuck with Lee Grant. That kind of looks ominous for the transfer-listed Beast but we shall have to see what happens when a new manager is on board. Danny Fox though got his chance at left back after recovering from injury with Easton having to be content with a place on the bench. There was surprisingly also no change in the centre of defence after a couple of shaky performances by Duff and Carlisle in the last couple of games. Chris Iwelumo was the lone striker up front so once again Steven Thompson missed out and must be wondering if the new manager will give him a better chance of making a regular starting eleven place.
In summary then we lined up as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox. Alexander, Eagles, Cork, Elliott. Rodriguez, Iwelumo.
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Easton, Edgar, Marney, Wallace, Thompson
It was a pretty grim day at Turf Moor weather-wise and the dull, overcast, cold and wet conditions did not help the atmosphere at Turf Moor. The Clarets contingent, with the James Hargreaves Lower stand being also additionally closed, did not seem to be particularly excited about this fixture and most noise emanated from the Cricket Field Stand where a sizeable Port Vale following, far more than a lot of Championship sides bring to the Turf, seemed in fine voice. The gate was under 10,000 and you could tell! I think most Clarets are simply in limbo at the moment and want to know who the new manager will be as soon as possible. It was certainly the major topic of the afternoon before, during and after the game.
Tyne & Wear referee, Eddie Ilderton got the game underway and it was the Clarets who were out of the blocks first finding themselves ahead with just four minutes on the clock. The Clarets had been awarded a corner. Eagles put over a sublime cross to the far post. As the ball floated over there was Carlisle to head home from six yards out.
Port Vale to their credit did not panic, gradually getting back into the game and causing the Clarets a shock by equalising on 15 minutes. Question marks about our defence though again have to be raised and it is now alarming to think we have gone fourteen games without keeping a clean sheet. The last one being at home to Barnsley back in October! This time, Vale striker, Justin Richards went on a charge to get in a low cross from the left for Dodds to shoot. Duff though managed to clear the ball of the line but both he and Carlisle were then too slow to react allowing Taylor to pounce from six yards out to drive home the loose ball.
Disappointing but it didn`t take long for the Clarets to retake the lead. Eagles had been proving a handful for the Vale back four all afternoon and this time he charged deep into their defence before bring fouled by Griffith 25 yards out from goal. Mears stepped up to the mark and unleashed a beauty, curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Burnley were now in complete control eager to increase their lead. Iwelumo should have done better with a header from yet another cross from Eagles but he could only put it wide. Eagles and Mears then linked well before getting the ball to Iwelumo, this time the Big Scot`s shooting prowess deserted him though and he just couldn`t connect with the ball on the turn. Eagles also had a failed attempt on goal from just outside the penalty area before the Clarets went in 2-1 up at half-time.
Five minutes into the second half, the pressure mounted on Vale when the Clarets increased their lead. The goal came on the break too after defending a corner at the other end. Wade Elliott was the architect of the goal releasing Jack Cork with a superb pass. Cork went on a run, leaving Vale`s Griffith for dead before passing a square ball to Eagles. He simply side-footed the ball into the top corner of the net and put the Clarets 3-1 up. There certainly didn`t look any way back for Port Vale now and the Clarets continued to punish the gallant League 2 side.
Jay Rodriguez looked to have made it game over after getting in a powerful shot from distance before Vale keeper, Tomlinson somehow managed to scramble the ball away to safety.
Vale never gave up though and Roberts nearly pulled a goal back on 65 minutes after linking well in a 1-2 with Richards. He could only lift the ball onto the roof of the net though.
Substitute, Andre Bikey then got in a well-timed interception following more good work from Vale`s impressive Taylor to deny Haldane a scoring opportunity. The Clarets at this stage just couldn`t seem to get possession. Taylor then nearly made it 3-2 but Grant rushed off his line to smother the danger.
Clarets fans certainly didn`t want another nervy finish and they could finally relax when on 76 minutes, Alexander made in 4-1 from the spot after Collins, well beaten for pace had fouled Mears in the box.
Game over now but still Vale were not done yet and managed to get a consolation goal with eight minutes left to play. Again it was a bit of shambolic defending this time from Lee Grant. Sean Rigg, one of Vale`s substitutions let rip with a pile driver that Grant should have either saved or punched clear. Instead he parried the ball away weakly and it fell to Taylor to tap home and get his brace.
Routine win in the end with a few scares along the way but we really, really have to sort out our defence. Oh well job done and in the next round we will now face League 2, Burton Albion at Turf Moor.
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff (Bikey 60), Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Eagles, Cork, Elliott (Marney 71), Rodriguez, Iwelumo (Thompson 73)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Easton, Wallace
Goals: Carlisle 4, Mears 21, Eagles 50, Alexander (pen) 76
Port Vale: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen, Collins, Taylor, Griffith, Haldane (Rigg 78), Roberts, Dodds (Morsy 46), J Richards (Fraser 78)
Subs Not Used: C Martin, Bell, Sutton, Taylor.
Goals: Taylor 15, 82
Booked: McCombe, Morsy
Possession: 62% Burnley, 38% Port Vale (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)
Star Player? Chris Eagles then!
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