Jay Rod then Dyno Rod but Still Three Points!
Saturday 5th March 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets got off to a storming start in their home game against struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday going ahead within three minutes of kick-off thanks to a wonder goal by Jay Rodriquez.
For a time in the first half after taking the lead Burnley looked like they were going to completely dominate the game with Palace offering very little. Most Clarets fans felt we were so much in control it was only a matter of time before we increased our lead during a spell when we played some of our best football of the season. That time though surprisingly never came and the second half to be honest was a total damp squib with barely a decent attempt on target by either side. The final ball in the final third always seemed to go astray and it was a relief to be honest when the final whistle went. At least it was loud enough to wake up the Clarets fans who had long since dozed off!
Still it was a win and they all count! The three points were vital to maintaining our momentum and promotion push .Our 1-0 victory saw the Clarets go up a place to 7th in the table but importantly with two games in hand over all the six clubs above them with both these games at home. We remain though stubbornly four points behind Leeds in sixth place after they enjoyed a 5-2 home win at Elland Road against Doncaster Rovers.
It had been sometime since the Clarets had played at Turf Moor. In fact, it had been a month ago against Norwich City on 5th February. After beating the Canaries we then had to endure four consecutive games on the road. Putting aside the FA Cup 5-1 thrashing that West Ham inflicted on the Clarets in the FA Cup fifth round tie at Upton Park, our away form has been pretty good of late. We picked up seven out of nine points from the three consecutive Championship games after drawing at Cardiff and beating Watford and Preston. The Clarets therefore went into the Palace match on a bit of a roll buoyed by their away win in the local derby at Deepdale only the week before and knowing they would be unbeaten in five matches if they could keep the Eagles at bay.
Eddie Howe kept faith with the same starting eleven that faced Preston the week before with the only shock perhaps coming on the subs bench. Rumours had been rife all week that Charlie Austin had dislocated his shoulder in training and those rumours reached fever pitch when it was clear that the former Swindon striker had not even made the subs bench. It would be later confirmed just after the game on Radio Lancs that Austin had indeed dislocated his shoulder in training the previous Monday night and would now be sidelined for the rest of the season following in the footsteps of fellow strikers Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson. Thompson underwent surgery this week to fix his infected groin although he could be available before the season ends if he makes a good enough recovery. With young striker, Wes Fletcher also sidelined with an ankle problem, the bench had no strikers to cover for anything untoward that might have happened to either Rodriguez or Iwelumo during the game. (Thankfully nothing did!!)
Our line up in summary then was as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Cork, Marney, Wallace, Eagles, Iwelumo, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Easton, Edgar, Alexander, Elliott, Bartley
On an overcast day in Burnley, Essex referee, Andy D`Urso got the game underway and it was the Clarets who came storming out of the blocks.
Palace keeper, Julian Speroni had been the bane of our life in the game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season after playing an absolute blinder making sure we had to be content with a 0-0 draw. This time he failed a fitness test after picking up a groin injury so he had to be content with a place on the bench. Stand in keeper, Lewis Price making his first start in a year therefore lined-up against us and was soon picking the ball out of the net!
We were ahead within three minutes in virtually our first attack of the game after a stunning right-footed 25 yard drive from Jay Rodriguez. He let rip with what seemed like effortless ease and it certainly knocked the stuffing out of the two mini-cab loads of Palace fans that had bothered to turn up! Rodriguez had been frustrated by Speroni all afternoon in the clash at Selhurst Park so it was with some justice he scored in this match albeit against another Palace keeper.
Burnley were now in the ascendancy and for virtually the remainder of the half we were pounding their goal and ensconced in their half.
Palace had very little to offer indeed and it was clear why they are struggling and why they had only managed just one away win all season. Darren Ambrose tried his best in one attack but Duff was alert enough to snuff out the danger after getting in a good block.
Now it was relentless with the Clarets attacking the shell-shocked Palace defence time and time again. Rodriguez nearly made it a brace after getting on the end of a Mears cross. He put his header wide though. Mears and Wallace were linking well causing all sorts of problems for the Palace back four.
The on-fire Rodriguez came close again from a Wallace corner after Cork had cleverly stepped-over the ball to bamboozle the Eagles defence. This time though his shot was fired over the bar. With seven minutes of the first half remaining, Jack Cork nearly doubled the Clarets lead after some clever work again from Wallace. He was too close to the keeper though with his header and the Clarets frustrating had to be content with just the one-goal lead at half-time.
Eagles` gaffer, Dougie Freedman must have said something during the break to shake up his team since they came out and began to put us under pressure in the early stages of the second half although it didn`t last. It was definitely their best spell of the match though and their confidence was worryingly beginning to improve especially after Ambrose came close with a dipping shot that hit the roof of the net from a free kick.
Howe tried to take back the initiative after bringing on Wade Elliott to replace the lacklustre; Chris Iwelumo on the hour mark but it was Palace again who came close to scoring. It was Ambrose again from yet another free kick who thumped in a shot that this time brought out the best from Lee Grant. The keeper in a spectacular save turned the ball over the bar to maintain the Clarets 1-0 advantage.
Burnley by now just did not seem to have the initiative to break down the stubborn Eagles defence and time after time passes in the final third were wayward or shots completely off target. If anybody was going to score it would most likely be Palace and they came close with 14 minutes to go.
It was yet another set-piece that caused the panic. As the free-kick came over, the Burnley defence should have dealt with it but instead the ball fell to Eagles skipper, Paddy McCarthy. He should have done better from six yards out instead of skying the ball over the bar but thankfully he did.
That was the last action of the game to be honest in a match which for the Clarets in the end turned out to be quite frustrating despite being victorious.
Nevertheless it was three points for the Clarets and our first clean sheet under Eddie Howe since his first game in charge. We have now won eleven games at home but more importantly our relentless climb up the table continues with our promotion hopes still very much alive. Eddie Howe has had a remarkable record with Burnley in the Championship so far with only one defeat now in eight league games and long may it continue! Next up we have Hull on Tuesday night at the KC Stadium followed by a Saturday home game against Millwall. A minimum of four points from those two games and our promotion dreams truly will be still alive. Come on you Clarets!
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Cork, Marney, Wallace (Edgar 90+3), Eagles (Alexander 87), Iwelumo (Elliott 59), Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Bikey, Easton, Bartley
Goal: Rodriguez 3
Crystal Palace: Price, Clyne, Wright (Easter 81), McCarthy, Moxey, Gardner, Ambrose, Danns, Dikgacoi (Scannell 69), Iversen (Counago 69), Vaughan
Subs Not Used: Speroni, Davis, Scannell, Zaha
Booked: Yellow Card for Danns and Iverson
Possession: 58% Burnley, 42% Crystal Palace (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Andy D'Urso (Billericay, Essex)
Let`s be honest though most of the players faded in the second-half. Chris Eagles had a right off-day and Iwelumo also seemed to struggle for most of the game. He was hobbling a few times too suggesting he might not be 100% fit
The centre defence pairing, Carlisle and Duff had a good day and both Mears and Fox looked sharp down the flanks in support of the wide-men. Palace though did not really have much to offer and our defence did not really have much to cope with all afternoon.
Wallace and Marney were solid and at times impressive but their energy levels and influence seemed to also wane in the second half. Jack Cork was in the thick of things again and hardly put a foot wrong all afternoon.
Our Star Player award is a difficult call this time but probably on balance Rodriguez deserves to take it. He certainly seems to be improving and become more influential every game.