Who Said Burnley`s Season Was Over?
Tuesday 19th April 2011 @7:45pm Kick-Off
The Clarets win their second game in succession and all of a sudden the play-offs dream is back on! A fantastic performance at Turf Moor against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night not only gave the Clarets all three points in a 3-1 victory over Tony Mowbray`s men but also moved them up the table to within two points of 6th placed club, Leeds United. That was our game in hand so mission accomplished but how Burnley must be ruing that awful spell following our win in the Hull game at the KC Stadium back in March. Until we beat Swansea City at home last Saturday, we had gone six games without a win with just one point clocked up.
Now we have two home wins and six points and find ourselves in 9th spot on 63 points! Leeds on 65 points could be catchable especially if we pick up points at Elland Road when we play them later this month in our penultimate game of the season but the trouble is we also have to worry about Forest and Hull (in 7th and 8th spot respectively) on the same number of points as Burnley but with a better goal difference. It is all still a tall order but to some degree our chances of reaching the play-offs is also in our own hands if we could just simply keep winning in our remaining four games of the season and hope the others drop points along the way! Big 'if` what?
The most pleasing thing about our victory over Boro though was not so much the win but the manner of our win in a performance that in my opinion must rank as the most impressive of the season. We were simply stunning, especially in the first half and tore Boro to shreds scoring three goals in a fifteen minute spell with Rodriguez opening the scoring on 22 minutes, with a low strike followed by Elliott a minute later with a shot from 18 yards before Duff popped up to head home on 37 minutes.
Boro were dead and buried really and if there was one negative from the night it was the fact we could not add to the tally and improve our goal difference in the second-half. Perhaps we dropped a gear but to be honest we still looked pretty impressive and it was just a shame that Boro had the last laugh getting a goal back in the 81st minute! It was only ever going to be a consolation goal though and Burnley finished the night with their heads held high.
Eddie Howe had no further injury concerns on the night and as predicted selected a similar eighteen to the one that defeated Swansea at Turf Moor in the previous game. The only change was that Howe preferred Iwelumo up front instead of Delfouneso who was back on the bench. I predicted this might happen in my Match Preview after some rather ineffective performances from the Fonz and the change seemed to work from the start with Big Chris looking far more on form than of late.
The Clarets shape looked much better with Rodriguez partnering Iwelumo up front and the wide-men Eagles and Elliott doing what they know best out on the flanks!
In summary then we lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Cork, Marney, Elliott, Eagles, Iwelumo, Rodriguez
Subs: Grant, Carlisle, Duffy, Alexander, Wallace, Delfouneso, Thompson
Clarets fans also spotted a couple of ex-Burnley players in the Boro team. Rhys Williams was in their starting eleven although these days he seems to be playing a more central midfield role rather than full back. Danny Coyle was also their keeper on the bench!
West Yorkshire referee, Mark Haywood got the game underway on a pleasant warm night in Burnley.
The Clarets stormed out of the books playing with purpose and determination. Eagles set up Rodriguez with a great cross that was headed wide before our efforts were rewarded with our first goal on 22 minutes.
Boro keeper, Paul Smith could only push an Eagles shot around the post for a Burnley corner. So many times over the last few seasons we have quibbled that we have been useless from corners but this one was something special and one that clearly had been practiced on the training ground. Whatever it was it completely bamboozled the Boro defence. Fox drove the ball from the corner allowing Eagles to dummy to set-up Jay Rodriguez running in on cue to thump home and notch up his 14th goal of the season. This was Jay Rod`s 100th appearance for the Clarets so what a way to celebrate the achievement.
Well if that was good what followed 60 seconds later was even better with the Clarets doubling their lead in stunning style. The impressive Eagles thankfully back to full form went on a charge after winning the ball deep in his own half. He laid the ball off to Rodriguez who continued the charge forward before passing the ball to Elliott. Wado danced his way into the penalty area and finding space for himself thumped home a right-footed shot which sailed into the roof of the net, completely silencing the Boro fans contingent to make it 2-0 Clarets!
We were now on fire and with the Clarets confidence brimming you could see the Boro players` heads drop wondering what the hell had just hit 'em! Don`t forget Mowbray`s team had not lost in seven games! It was clearly evident now though they had certainly met their match and we certainly rubbed the salt in their wounds making in 3-0 with just eight minutes of the first half remaining.
It was another tale of a goal from a corner. Phew how times have changed! This time Fox lofted over a ball to the far corner to find Duff ideally placed to nod home and score his first goal since October 2008.
Boro had limited chances in the first half and even when they had, the danger was easily snuffed out by the back four especially by the central pairing of Duff and Bikey. Boro`s leading goal-scorer, Scott McDonald, a shadow of his former self on the night did at long last test Jensen but 'The Beast 'mopped up the danger and simply set-up a counter attack. There was star-man Jay Rodriguez to once more challenge the Boro defence before releasing the energetic-looking Iwelumo. The big Scot`s attempted flick on goal though just failed and that was it for the first-half.
What a first 45 minutes and what a buzz for Clarets fans on the concourses at half-time. You could sense the excitement after the gloom of recent games. (Swansea aside)
Burnley maintained the momentum from the start of the second half and almost came close to a penalty after that man Eagles looked to have been pulled back in the box. Eagles continued though and played the ball off to Marney who just couldn`t seem to connect properly.
It was then Marney`s turn to repay the favour, this time almost setting up Eagles but it wasn`t to be.
Boro had their moments and looked a bit more determined in the second-half. They came close with a thunderous free kick from Tony McMahon which flew over the bar but you just sensed this was going to be our night.
The impressive Fox, who must qualify as the most improved player this season, put over a superb diagonal ball to find Iwelumo who headed down into the danger area without success. Next it was Rodriguez who nearly got his brace on the night but could only curl his shot just over the bar.
Eagles, one of many really impressive performers on the night, then forced a corner following another blistering attack on 65 minutes. Jay Rodriguez was then back in the action this time with a header that was just a little too high.
It was desperate for Boro now so Mowbray made a triple substitution and rather annoyingly it worked allowing the visitors to pull a goal back with nine minutes of play remaining.
It was our former loan full-back, Rhys Williams who let rip with a shot that Jensen could only touch against the woodwork. The ball, on the rebound fell nicely for Taylor to thump home and make it 3-1.
It was only ever going to be a consolation goal though, albeit a pretty annoying one considering it dented our now crucial goal difference.
The Clarets finished the game as they had started namely in control and looking the most likely to score again and increase their lead further. Jay Rod nearly scored immediately after the Boro consolation after a storming run that led to a shot which was just wide. In added time there was Jack Cork to nearly make it 4-1 after some clever, opportunist play that saw the on-loan Chelsea midfielder charge forward and just fail with his attempt on goal.
3-1 Clarets the final score and what a great night with so much positivity and hope after the misery of recent times. We simply have to keep the momentum going now starting with a win at Pride Park against the Rams this Saturday. Come on you Clarets!!
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey (Carlisle 71), Fox, Cork, Marney (Alexander 90), Elliott, Eagles (Delfouneso 76), Iwelumo, Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Grant, Duffy, Wallace, Thompson
Goals: Rodriguez 22, Elliott 23, Duff 37
Middlesbrough: Smith, Bates, McManus, Williams, Taylor, Bennett, McMahon (Lita 60), Thomson (Smallwood 60), Robson (Kink 59), Arca, McDonald
Subs Not Used: Coyne, Davies, Flood, Halliday
Goal: Taylor 81
Booked: Yellow Card for McMahon
Possession: 56% Burnley, 44% Middlesbrough (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)
The first half especially was simply stunning and overall I don`t think I would rate anybody under a 7. It was a great captain`s performance from Marney with some good solid work in defence by the back four too especially by Fox and Bikey. Elliott and Eagles gave Boro problems all night but it was the attack that for once looked sharp with Iwelumo having his best game in sometime despite not being on the score sheet.
Jay Rodriguez though picked up the fans texted Man of the Match award and he thoroughly deserved it looking sharp and lethal all night as well as of course scoring a well-taken goal to put the Clarets 1-0 up. Jay shades our Star Player award too just pipping Fox and Iwelumo with all three rating a nine.