Burnley Take Their Foot Off 'The Gas'!
Tuesday 19th July @7;45pm Kick-Off
The Clarets suffered their first pre-season defeat of the summer going down 2-0 to League 2 side, Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium tonight. A goal in each half by the Pirates (aka 'The Gas') was enough to defeat the lacklustre Clarets who struggled defensively all night and never raised their game. The excuses are coming thick and fast!
The squad faced a double training session on Monday before an early departure for their Bath hotel on Tuesday. They also had their travel plans disrupted by lengthy delays.
The team therefore were allegedly tired after the long journey down and had just four hours to recover in the hotel! Aye OK so why didn't the club make a game of it by travelling down on Monday night instead and getting a good night's sleep? Oh sorry, hotel bills no doubt for an extra night?
At least Eddie Howe was not using the journey down as an excuse
"We`re not going to look at the journey as an excuse," he said.
"We`re working them hard. They did a double session (on Monday) so they could be a bit leggy.
"We`re still getting fitness into their game but there are still disappointing aspects to their game that we need to improve."
Anyway of course these games don't matter do they, except for the loyal fans forking out loads of money to travel down to the South West to watch a load of tosh. All 230 of them!
You could tell it was going to be one of those nights when the club got all secretive about the 23rd player in the squad who hadn't been officially named. Did they really think announcing a squad of 23 players and only naming 22 would go unnoticed? Some excitement ensued with speculation there was a new kid on the block, a new quality signing at long last! Could it be former Manchester United, Derby and Wolves midfielder, David Jones? Nope, it turned out to be none other than trialist and potential third-string keeper, Jon Stewart! We did of course already know about him, but for some legal reason the club couldn't say who he was until the team kicked-off! Bizarre to say the least!
Eddie Howe changed tactics for this game, preferring to give more of his team an extended run out rather than effectively play two different teams in each half.
All 23 players in the squad though were to be named for this clash with the starting eleven as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Mee, Fox, McCann, Marney, Paterson, Fletcher, MacDonald, Eagles
Those named on the subs' bench were:
Grant, Stewart, Hewitt, Easton, Bikey, Edgar, Elliott, Bartley, Wallace, Austin, Rodriguez, Long
The only senior professional absent from the 23 man squad was Leon Cort fuelling speculation that his days at Turf Moor could be numbered. Some of the development squad had also failed to make the tour most notably Alex-Ray Harvey
Chris McCann was named captain and led the team out who were again sporting their new yellow, (sorry lemon chrome) away kit!
Eagles was given a free roaming role playing in the hole behind Fletcher and MacDonald with Paterson up front and McCann and Marney behind him. The formation could have been described as 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or even 4-4-1-1 during the course of the game but no matter how you described it apart from the first few minutes, Bristol Rovers seemed to suss it out and prevented any meaningful attacks for most of the game.
Burnley though nearly took the lead in their first attack in the first minute of the match. Paterson latched onto an attempt by McCann only to see his shot bounce off the foot of the post. Chris Eagles was causing the Pirates all sorts of problems. A fine cross from him in the 9th minute found McCann at the far post McCann though first missed an attempted left footed volley and then saw his second attempt blocked. Three minutes later, Eagles played a nice 1-2 with McCann but the shot was deflected for a corner.
The Clarets seemed to have the upper hand at this point and could easily have gone ahead in the first 15 minutes. Bristol Rovers first attempt came in the 19th minute when they were awarded a direct free kick. Adam Virgo's shot from distance though sailed straight into the arms of Jensen in what in the end looked an easy save.
It seemed to buoy up the Pirates though and in the 23rd minute, debutant Ben Mee came to our rescue following a cross from the right wing. It looked like Anyinsah would have the simple task of heading home but Mee came from nowhere to take the ball off his head to superbly head the ball away for a corner. Mee`s effort though was somewhat in vain with Rovers then taking the lead from the resultant corner. Matt Harrold simply side footed the ball home from the corner to make it 1-0 to the Gas on 23 minutes.
It was now Bristol Rovers who took the upper hand and quite frankly we were put under the cosh defensively and rarely looked like mounting our own attack. The Clarets could easily have been 3-0 down at half-time but for the efforts of Jensen and some poor shooting from the Rovers attack. It remained though 1-0 at half-time with Eddie Howe scratching his head and pondering why we looked so under par in the first 45 minutes.
The gaffer freshened things up for the start of the second half making a double substitution. On came Wade Elliott for Alex MacDonald and Ross Wallace for Wes Fletcher but it seemed to make no odds. The Clarets seemed stuck in first gear and continued to be punished by the rampant Pirates.
The game though seemed to get very scrappy for the first 12 minutes of the second half with very little action. Eagles though livened things up in the 58th minute after turning and getting in a blistering shot from 30 yards which flew inches wide of the post with the keeper well beaten.
In the 64th minute though disaster struck for the Clarets and they went further behind after Elliott Richards sprinted clear to slot the ball under Jensen and make it 2-0 to the Pirates.
That was enough for Howe and he decided to make some mass substitutions including a complete change to the back four. On came Long, Edgar, Bikey and Easton and in the end the tally of changes came to seven with Bartley, Austin and Rodriguez also getting a run out with 23 minutes of normal time to go.
The Clarets seemed to buck up a bit in the final quarter of the game and there was a stunning effort from Wallace from 25 yards out in the 78th minute but the ball clattered against the crossbar. Rodriguez too had a couple of good efforts but in the end 'The Gas` held firm and in the end this was a very disappointing performance by the Clarets who looked jaded and clueless for most of the game.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears (Long 67), Duff (Edgar 67), Mee (Bikey 67), Fox (Easton 67), MacDonald (Elliott 45), Eagles (Rodriguez 67), Marney (Bartley 67), McCann (c), Fletcher (Wallace 45), Paterson (Austin 67)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Stewart, Hewitt
Bristol Rovers: Bevan, Smith (Boateng 62), Brown (Campbell ht), Virgo (Bolger ht), Anthony, Lines (Brown ht), Gill (Stanley ht), Zebroski (Swallow ht), Harrold (Richards 62), McGleish (Kuffour ht), Anyinsah (Carayol ht).
Subs Not Used: Cronin, McLaggon