Damp Squib Cardiff Draw Brings Season to a Close
Saturday 7th May 2011 @12:45pm Kick-Off
It would have been nice to have finished the season on a high with a victory over Cardiff City at home but in the end we had to be content with a 1-1 draw. It looked like Jay Rodriguez`s goal in the 13th minute may have been enough to secure all three points with the final whistle fast approaching but Bellamy in the dying seconds of normal time got on the end of a long ball chip over the top to lob Brian Jensen and equalise.
This was a strange end of season game in the end. The police presence was heavy with possible trouble expected in view of the large numbers of Cardiff fans making the long journey from South Wales. The game could have been a pot-boiler had Cardiff still been needing points to secure automatic promotion but they blew their opportunity in midweek by losing 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough . They would now have to be happy with a play-offs spot yet again after Norwich beat Pompey 1-0 at Fratton Park on the same night to claim a second place finish pushing Cardiff into third with the Bluebirds now unable to catch them.
There was also an earlier announcement on the morning before the 12:45 pm Kick Off clash at Turf Moor confirming that league leaders QPR had been promoted as Champions. The club had feared they might have been docked points by the FA over the Alejandro Faurlin affair but in the end they just received a fine of £875,000 after being found guilty of two of the seven charges against them relating to the Argentine midfielder's ownership.
Had QPR been docked points, that may been enough to put Cardiff back in with a chance of automatic promotion and under pressure to beat the Clarets but in the end the match was a bit a damp squib. Burnley`s play-offs hopes had evaporated the Saturday before following the 1-0 defeat against Leeds United at Elland Road and now Cardiff knew they were already assured of a play-offs place come what may. I guess the Cardiff fans though did have one eye on deadly rivals Swansea City, also assured of a play-offs place and battling to finish above them.
In the end the 1-1 draw meant the Clarets finished in 8th spot on 68 points frustratingly just seven points off the play offs. I am sure we can all find those seven points we should not have dropped over the season. Some of the games that come to mind include relegated Scunthorpe getting the double over us, losing two goal leads away to Norwich and relegated Sheffield United to draw and then going down 3-2 to Leeds at home, again after leading 2-0. Oh well, no point in going over old ground, we just have to move on and look forward to 2011-12 with a freshened up squad and Eddie Howe beginning to put his own stamp on things.
As for Cardiff fans they must be seething after missing out on automatic promotion in such fashion ahead of the game but at least they are in the play-offs unlike the Clarets. In the end Swansea finished above them on goal difference just to add insult to injury so the Bluebirds now face a play-offs semi-final against Reading over two legs with Swansea playing Forest.
It was a different looking Burnley team that faced Cardiff City on Saturday with Eddie Howe wringing the changes and it would appear looking to experiment with an eye on next season. Michael Duff was out injured so David Edgar got a rare start partnering Bikey in the centre of defence. Nathan Delfouneso had completed his loan early and had returned to Villa in midweek so we were a striker light. Howe decided to drop Iwelumo back to the bench, playing Rodriguez alone up front and there was a return to the starting eleven for Ross Wallace who lined up on the left flank. Young Dominic Knowles was also named on the bench giving him his first experience of life in the first team eighteen. Chris McCann was named captain becoming our sixth of the season with Alexander, Carlisle, Elliott, Marney and Duff all having led the teams out onto the pitch during 2010-11.
In summary, we lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Edgar, Bikey, Fox, Elliott, Cork, McCann, Wallace, Eagles, Rodriguez
Subs: Grant, Easton, Carlisle, Alexander, Thompson, Iwelumo, Knowles
In a little bit of co-incidence, Tyne & Wear referee, Colin Webster took charge of this match having also refereed the reverse fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium earlier this year. The referee got the game underway with the Clarets sporting their new strip for the 2011-12 campaign
It was perhaps because the pressure was off now that the Clarets could play with more freedom and less worry but we looked strong and confident in the opening spell.
Eagles got in a superb pass to find Wallace on 8 minutes and the winger charged forward leaving Paul Quinn for dead. Bearing down on goal he let rip with an angled drive that needed a good save from loan keeper, Stephen Bywater who managed to tip the ball onto the bar and away to safety.
Cardiff were definitely on the back foot in these early stages and soon found they were a goal behind with just 13 minutes played.
Jensen had just made a straightforward save from Koumas and now Bikey had the ball, He produced a brilliant defence-splitting pass which found Rodriguez. Jay Rod in a first-time effort guided his low shot into the far corner of the net from the right side of the area to put the Clarets 1-0 up
It was nearly 2-0 a minute later but this time Quinn got back in time to block after Wallace delayed his shot for too long following an Eagles pass.
Eagles then took a quick free kick to find Rodriguez but this time the striker`s shot flew just wide. He came close again, this time from a corner involving the step-over routine but his shot flew past the post.
Cardiff had done little to worry the Clarets in the first half and when they had, Jensen had been equal to it. Jensen had already saved an attempt by Koumas in the later stages of the first half before showing quick reactions by turning to grab the ball following an attempt by Bothroyd. 1-0 it remained though at half-time.
Eddie Howe was forced into one change for the second half following an injury to Andre Bikey and it was Brian Easton who came on to find himself in the unusual position of centre back.
Cardiff continued to be unable to break through the solid back four with both Bellamy and Bothroyd looking more and more frustrated despite the Bluebirds now enjoying most of the possession.
Despite the Clarets not quite looking as impressive as they had been in the first half, they came closest to scoring the second goal of the afternoon on the hour mark. This time Elliott and Rodriguez combined well to set up Eagles. His shot though was defended by Keinan in front of goal to concede a corner. Fox, from the corner came close with a shot but Bothroyd managed to block with the ball heading for the bottom corner.
Jack Cork in one of the most impressive displays of football all afternoon then went on a mazy run charging towards the danger area only for McNaughton to get in a desperate last tackle in the box to deny the midfielder.
Cardiff though had the last laugh following a long ball over the top by Stephen McPhail which flew over the Burnley back-line. Bellamy charging forward latched onto the ball before lobbing Jensen to equalise.
Cork then had one last attempt to secure all three points for the Clarets following a near post cross from Elliott but he could not get enough accuracy with his header and that was it for another season with Burnley unable to finish on a high note.
See you all again in 2011-12 when we will continue to provide you with our match reports. Hope you have enjoyed this season`s service from Vital Burnley. If anybody would like to write match reports for the site then please let me know.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Edgar, Bikey (Easton 46), Fox, Cork, Elliott, McCann, Wallace (Iwelumo 73), Eagles (Alexander 89), Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Grant, Carlisle, Thompson, Knowles
Goal: Rodriguez 13
Booked: Yellow cards for Edgar & Mears
Cardiff: Bywater, McNaughton, Hudson (Blake 30), Keinan, Quinn, Whittingham, Burke (Emmanuel-Thomas 56), Koumas, Olofinjana (McPhail 72), Bothroyd, Bellamy
Subs Not Used: Heaton, Rae, Chopra, Parkin
Goal: Bellamy 90
Booked: Yellow card for Whittingham
Possession: 43% Burnley, 57% Cardiff City (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear)
Jay Rodriguez too had a good game scoring his 15th goal of the season to finish our top scorer. He picked up a number of fans player awards the other night too and proved his worth yet again in this clash.
The fans texted Man of the Match award though went to David Edgar who looked really impressive in the centre of defence. Let`s hope, Eddie Howe has now seen something in the utility defender to warrant more of a starting eleven role next season with the luckless Canadian having been snubbed so much in the past by previous managers. Our Star Player award also goes to Edgar.