Tame Burnley Thrown to Lions
Saturday 12th March 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
It was a miserable day for Burnley at Turf Moor this Saturday with the Clarets going down 3-0 to a less than impressive Millwall. This was simply a woeful, abject performance from Burnley with virtually nothing going right all afternoon. Our passing game fell apart, we were dreadful defending from corners and we had few shots on target with most being blasted over from distance. I would like to think with that score-line that Millwall looked the part but to be honest they were nothing but mediocre and that just made matters worse! This was not a matter of taming the Lions; they were not that fierce to begin with. It was the Clarets that were tame and simply could not raise their game from basically awful all afternoon!
We had an ideal opportunity to steal a march on our rivals for promotion in this game too but in typical Burnley fashion we fluffed it.
The defeat now leaves us four points adrift of sixth placed club, Forest. Burnley had been on a roll before this game as well with just one league defeat since the arrival of Eddie Howe and five wins in the last six. Millwall on the other hand had not won away since November and had failed to beat the Clarets at Turf Moor in their last seven attempts going back to 1997. I guess 'sods law 'dictates it was going to be Millwall`s day but nobody really expected the Clarets to lose our first league game on home soil under the new gaffer in this manner.
This was such a bad game most Clarets fans were finding other things to occupy their attention. I tried counting the number of Millwall fans huddled together in one small top corner of the Cricket Stand. Not that many trust me but at least they would go home happy even though 'nobody loves them`. Burnley fell to three second half goals. Millwall captain, Paul Robinson lead by example scoring a brace with both goals coming from corners before on-loan Spurs winger, Andros Townsend sealed a dreadful day for the Clarets in the 87th minute rifling home a low left-foot shot from 12 yards out.
I guess we have to be thankful that all the teams above us also failed to win with the exception of league leaders QPR (although Cardiff are playing today, Sunday and Norwich on Monday night) but in a sense that makes it more frustrating. Leeds and Nottingham Forest in 5th and 6th respectively could only muster 1-1 home draws so a win for the Clarets against the Lions would have significantly closed the gap. We do though remain in 7th spot, still with games in hand. By the time we play the first of these at home to Coventry on Tuesday night all the clubs above Burnley will have played two games more so it is vital we redeem ourselves against the struggling Sky Blues and get our promotion campaign quickly back on track.
The team almost picked itself for the Millwall clash. With no suspensions or fresh injury concerns for Eddie Howe following our midweek game away to Hull, it was probably inevitable the gaffer would select the same eighteen after our 1-0 victory at the KC Stadium and so it proved! The line-up then was as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Wallace, Marney, Cork, Eagles, Delfouneso, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Alexander, Edgar, Bikey, Elliott, Bartley, Iwelumo
Tyne & Wear referee, Eddie Ilderton got the game underway on a pretty miserable damp, showery overcast cold day in Burnley. New boy, Nathan Delfouneso our on loan striker from Aston Villa was making his home debut eager to add to the winning goal he scored against Hull in his debut for the Clarets at the KC in midweek. On 13 minutes he nearly did! Rodriguez knocked down a free-kick from Mears and there was the Fonz to get in a well-anticipated header. His header though hit the woodwork and virtually from that moment onwards he would become effectively 'Mr Invisible`! He might have been more visible though if our midfield could have got the ball to him.
After that early bit of excitement for Clarets fans, the game now developed into a pretty dire, scrappy affair with the Burnley players seemingly lacking drive and passion to break the stalemate.
Burnley rarely got out of first gear and even then it seemed they had forgotten to take the handbrake off. There was one spell in the first half though where we suddenly seemed to buck up albeit for only about six minutes. Wallace and Cork linked well to open up the Lions defence before the former Preston winger laid off the ball to Rodriguez. His shot looked to be well on target but it took a deflection off a defender to skim just past the post. Burnley then sliced through the Millwall midfield before Marney completed the move with a well-taken shot that sailed over. It was Marney again who just failed to get enough purchase on his header following an Eagles cross.
Millwall though looked untroubled and solid in defence soaking up this short-lived pressure. Millwall`s top scorer, Steve Morison latched onto a half-chance but the back tracking Lee Grant dealt with the threat after grabbing the ball. Eight minutes before half-time, the Lions nearly broke the deadlock. James Henry danced his way into the penalty area unleashing a left-footed curler that went just wide. The warning signs were there though as the whistle went for the end of the first 45 minutes. The Clarets would need to buck their ideas up and quickly in the second-half if we were to get anything from this game.
Despite our lacklustre performance in the first half, Howe resisted the temptation to make any changes and from the re-start we did look a bit brighter in the first few minutes.
Millwall were on the back-foot for a time and both Wallace and Marney let fly with efforts from just outside the penalty area but sadly the score stubbornly remained 0-0.
Just as the Clarets threatened to play with some conviction and enjoy some possession they were suddenly hit by a goal at the other end in the 52nd minute following a surge by the Lions on the break. Millwall were rewarded with a corner from the attack and as the ball came over there was Robinson at the back post to stoop low and head home. It was a bitter body blow for the Clarets and this time their resilience to get back on equal terms deserted them.
The Lions could have doubled their lead around the hour mark after Morison broke clear but he failed to spot Lisbie in an ideal place to score. Eddie Howe by now had seen enough and so had the Clarets fans, it was time for Plan B. Off came the ineffective Chris Eagles to be replaced by Chris Iwelumo but to be honest it made little difference.
The midfield were clearly failing to create enough chances for the strikers up front with the Clarets having to resort to long-range shots usually off-target or skied high into the Jimmy Mac! Wade Elliott came on replacing the quiet Delfouneso after 68 minutes. Would his fresh legs liven up the midfield? In a word, 'no` and three minutes we went further behind. Burnley had been troubled by set-pieces all afternoon and after already conceding one goal from a corner were about to concede another! A Lisbie free-kick was deflected wide and from the corner, our back four again could not deal with the danger after it was played short by Townsend to Dunne. His right flank cross found Robinson. The Lions skipper found the space to score from 12 yards out and make it 2-0 Millwall.
Burnley tried to get a goal back and set up an exciting last few minutes but you just sensed it was not going to happen. Referee Eddie Ilderton refused to award a penalty after Robinson wrestled with substitute Chris Iwelumo on the edge of the six-yard box much to the Clarets fans annoyance. Marney too could have done better with a shot but blasted over. It was definitely game over though when Millwall on a break went down the other end to make it 3-0 in the 87th minute. This time Townsend rifled home a left-footed shot but by then most Clarets fans had been resigned to our fourth home defeat of the season with a considerable number having already left the ground in disgust.
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Cork, Marney (Alexander 90+1), Wallace, Eagles (Iwelumo 59), Rodriguez, Delfouneso (Elliott 68)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Bartley
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Craig, Mkandawire, Ward, Trotter, Henry (Eastmond 90), Townsend (Barron 88), Morison, Lisbie (Rowlands 79)
Subs Not Used: Mildenhall, Hackett, McQuoid, Marquis
Goals: Robinson 52, 71 Townsend 87
Possession 53% Burnley, 47% Millwall (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)
Wallace it is then for our Star Player!