Burnley Find No Eggs in Robins Nest
Saturday 19th March 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets came away from Ashton Gate with no points after going down 2-0 to a pretty average Bristol City side. It was yet another very poor, disappointing performance from Burnley with just one point now from three games severely denting our promotion hopes.
The defeat means the Clarets have slipped one place to 8th in the Championship table and they can thank themselves lucky that both Leeds United in 5th spot and Nottingham Forest in 6th also lost away on Saturday. The results mean that the Clarets are still just three points behind Forest with a game in hand but don`t let anybody fool you into believing we are still in with a good chance of reaching the play-offs.! Let me tell you if we continue to play like we did yesterday and in the previous two home games against Millwall and Coventry, we have absolutely no chance!
We were simply dross against the Robins and I just don`t know what has happened to the team that until two weeks ago had won five games out of their last six! The improvement under Howe before the Millwall game was evident for all to see bearing in mind also that yesterday`s defeat was only our first on the road in five away games. Just when we were within touching distance of the play-offs and indeed even automatic promotion we suddenly suffer an alarming drop in form! Yes, we might have been riding our luck in a lot of games prior to Millwall and coming away with points having not played too convincingly but now we have simply nothing to offer in any department.
The defence are clueless, the midfield laboured and the strike force have become invisible. Our passing game seems to have gone to pieces and that was magnified against the Robins yesterday. We seemed to take about 20 passes each time mainly backwards before creating very few limited chances in their half whereas Bristol took the direct approach, stormed up into our half on the break and seemed to score or nearly score every time they did. The whole team seem to have lost confidence and their resilience to come from behind seems to have evaporated. It`s not good and if Howe doesn`t find the winning touch again soon, his honeymoon period with the fans will be well and truly over. We now have the chance to rest with the international break upon us, so let`s hope the team come back refreshed against Ipswich at home, our next game on Saturday April 2nd. We have now just nine games left to try and reach the play-offs. Yes, OK that is still a possibility but not as I said previously if we continue the dreadful form of the last three matches.
The big debate before the match was whether Howe would still show loyalty to the eighteen he selected in the previous two games despite the horror show against Millwall and Coventry. One change was forced upon him with Dean Marney ruled out with a knee injury. Marvin Bartley therefore was given his full debut after previously making just two substitute appearances.
Howe also seemed to have listened to the Clarets fans chants to bring back Andre Bikey in the game against Coventry on Tuesday night. He was named in the starting eleven for the first time since December last year replacing Michael Duff who returned to the bench. Wade Elliott too started in place of Villa loan striker, Nathan Delfouneso who had to be content with being a substitute.
We therefore lined up as follows:
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Fox, Bikey, Cork, Elliott, Bartley, Wallace, Eagles, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Duff, Easton, Edgar, Alexander, Delfouneso, Iwelumo.
There was a change of referee for this game with East Yorkshire referee, Mark Brown taking charge and he got the match underway on a bright, sunny Spring-like day in Bristol.
It was Bristol who made the brighter start too and it was unfortunate that Danny Fox trying to keep out one of their attacks in these early stages earned a yellow card after six minutes for a foul on the dangerous-looking Adomah. That sadly was his tenth booking of the season which means he will now serve an automatic two game suspension. Brian Easton probably has a wry smile on his face!
Bristol City though were keeping up the pressure and this time Campbell-Ryce on the opposite flank stormed into the penalty area in a dangerous move which was only snuffed out by Grant getting down and smothering the ball.
Clarets fans by now were wondering when they might have the opportunity to jump out of their backless-seats (Why backless Bristol?) and the first chance of not that many in the end came when Wallace forced James into saving a low shot which was tipped around the post. The fact it was now only eight minutes before half-time sums up how ineffective we had been in the first 37 minutes. Burnley now had a little spell of their own which in the end was cruelly dashed after Bristol on the break took the lead two minutes before half-time.
First though, Bartley nearly capped his full debut with a goal on 40 minutes forcing a great save from Calamity (but not in this game) James! It was Rodriguez with a clever pass that set up the former Bournemouth midfielder. Bartley though rather than shooting first time which in hindsight was the better option decided to try and take the ball round James. The England international keeper though showed his class by spreading himself wide and saving at the feet of Bartley.
Burnley though then got caught out on the break and the worst possible moment just before half-time.
Eddie Howe when Bournemouth manager had sold Brett Pitman to Bristol City in September last year for £500,000 to ease the club's debts. How ironic then that it would be Pitman who opened the scoring against Howe`s new club!
Pitman struck on 43 minutes when he latched on to a cross from Albert Adomah to half-volley a powerful shot past keeper Lee Grant . Let`s be honest though our defence should have done better with the cross from Adomah in the first place. Three games ago when confidence was high we might have done so but now our back four continue to look error prone. Mears tried in vain to claim a penalty soon after their goal after being brought down the box but the referee waved play on. So that was it, 1-0 down at the break with the Clarets after such a lacklustre performance having a miserable traipse back to the dressing room and no doubt expecting a rollicking from the gaffer. I hope they got one!
Whatever he said though had no effect and the second-half continued in the same vein. We were riding our luck when Maynard looked certain to score four minutes from the restart. Thankfully though, the in-form striker fluffed his shot. Our defence then got caught out again where indecision and a mix-up nearly gave Adomah the chance to pounce and double the Robins lead. Somehow we survived that one but Clarets fans were by now frustrated by the lack of effort from our lads not to mention the woeful defensive errors.
The team could perhaps sense the crowd`s annoyance and for a brief time responded positively. All of a sudden, it was Bristol City on the back foot at long last with Burnley having their best spell of the game. Andre Bikey had had a shaky start in defence early on but was now looking stronger but this time his heading skills were being utilised at the other end and he came close to equalising for the Clarets on two separate occasions. Burnley continued to press but just couldn`t get any decent attempts on goal and it was clear we needed more umph up front. Just past the hour mark, Howe decided to go for Plan B bringing on loan Villa striker, Delfouneso. Surprisingly it was Jack Cork he replaced. It is worrying that Jack Cork has now been substituted for the second game on the trot. It is also perhaps a sign of the times if even our most dependable, classiest player in midfield is also struggling.
Sadly though the substitution had little effect and eight minutes later we found ourselves with a mountain to claim after going 2-0 behind. It was a long ball that split the Burnley defence allowing Maynard to chase forward. Clarke Carlisle then made a terrible blunder attempting a weak back pass to the keeper that was left well-short allowing Maynard to pounce and score on 70 minutes dashing any real hopes of a Clarets recovery.
Burnley were now being pounded again with the Robins scenting blood. Grant denied Adomah with an excellent save to concede a corner. He also got on the end of the ball from the corner only to see his effort blocked in front of goal. The Robins also had the ball in the net for a third time exposing the weakness of our back four yet again. This time though it was disallowed for offside.
Jay Rodriguez had been having a quiet game by his standards but our leading goal-scorer nearly converted a half-chance after latching onto a pass from Eagles. He simply though could not control the ball in the penalty area and our chance of setting up an interesting last ten minutes evaporated.
He had another chance towards the end forcing James into a near-post save but this was never going to be our day. Four minutes of added time had to be played out with most Clarets fans hoping the whistle had already been blown such was the agony of watching this terrible display.
It was a miserable journey back then for Clarets fans! Losing is always hard but you can accept it if you tried your best and were beaten by a much better team. Sadly in this case neither was true.
Bristol City: James, Stewart, Nyatanga, Spence, Caulker, Elliott, Campbell-Ryce, Cisse (Johnson 38), Adomah, Maynard (Clarkson 90+1), Pitman (Keogh 90+1)
Subs Not Used: Gerken, Ribeiro, Edwards, Woolford
Booked: Yellow Cards for Campbell-Ryce and Stewart
Goals: Pitman 43, Maynard 70
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Fox, Bikey, Cork (Delfouneso 62), Elliott (Alexander 90+2), Bartley, Wallace (Iwelumo 68), Eagles, Rodriguez
Sub Not Used: Jensen, Duff, Edgar, Easton
Booked: Yellow cards for Fox, Mears, Rodriguez and Carlisle
Possession: 46 % Bristol City, 54% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)
Many thanks to Burnley FC for the use of the photograph