Torquay Gloss Tarnished By Eagles and Mears News
Saturday 23rd July 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets brought their South West tour to a close yesterday comprehensively beating League 2 Torquay 3-1 at Plainmoor in their fourth pre-season friendly of the summer and their second of the tour. The day was soured for Clarets fans though before the game even kicked off following an announcement by the club that they had accepted a £3 million offer from Owen Coyle`s Bolton for two of our key players, Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears. Both players have decided to stab the club in the back seeking glory in the Premier League with the hated Judas and of course the club, fearful of losing them for nothing when their contracts expire next month have timidly cashed in further weakening our chances of promotion before the season has even kicked-off! Eddie Howe and the club have tried to put a brave face on proceedings reassuring fans they will now use the money to find suitable replacements but with time running out we now find ourselves seven players light compared to the size of last season`s squad with three key players from that squad no longer with us (Cork and now probably Eagles and Mears). It would appear signings are imminent and there could be a new face at the club as early as tomorrow (Monday) but we certainly have a lot of catching up to do considering we are now the only club in the Championship yet to make a permanent signing this summer.
Both Eagles and Mears were at the ground yesterday in the crowd after being unceremoniously dropped from the squad named to face the Gulls. We can only surmise what sort of reception they are now getting from their Burnley team mates and what affect them going will have on team morale and the affect it could also have on the club`s pulling power in terms of attracting new players to the club.
The moves of course to the Reebok have not yet been finalised but things are looking bleak for the club with just two weeks to go now until the season kicks off in anger. Most of the debate yesterday during the match in the Clarets world of online chatting from fans unable to trek the long way to Devon was of course all about this disturbing news with bizarrely the game itself almost of secondary interest. Most VitalBurnleyites know my views on this subject and it has been aired and discussed in great detail on the site elsewhere so we won`t go over old ground again but concentrate now on the game itself.
Another two players were also absent from the squad named for the Gulls clash providing a few anxious moments for Clarets fans especially since one of those players was Martin Paterson. Pato had been linked with a move to Portsmouth so losing yet another player to make it three in one day would have been hard for Clarets to take. Thankfully though, the news filtered down confirming that he had simply been rested so we could all breathe at least one sigh of relief. The other player missing was keeper, Lee Grant.
In summary then Eddie Howe named nineteen players from his squad of 23 players down in Devon with Edgar playing at right back and Elliott out on the right wing. We lined up as follows:
Jensen, Edgar, Mee, Bikey, Easton, Elliott, Bartley, Marney, Wallace, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Duff, Fox, Long, Hewitt, McCann, MacDonald, Fletcher
The Clarets came onto their pitch sporting their home kit for a change and within 8 minutes were a goal up. Marvin Bartley on a dash through the middle slotted home from 18 yards out to score his first goal for the club and put the Clarets 1-0 up. The Clarets then turned up the heat and indeed it took 29 minutes before Torquay created their first chance. New boy, Rene Howe attempted a side-footed shot that went wide. Before that Ross Wallace attempted a free-kick which easily beat the keeper only for the ball to hit the crossbar and skim away to safety.
Clarets fans did not have long to wait though before our lead was doubled. Our new loan, Ben Mee was the architect of the goal after a mazy dribble which led to him putting Rodriguez free. Jay Rod let rip with a low shot that hit the back of the net making in 2-0 after just 33 minutes played.
There was a scare for the Clarets just before half-time when the Gulls nearly reduced the arrears. Atieno got the better of Jensen getting behind the keeper. With an open goal in front of him somehow he could only find the side-netting. So 2-0 it was to the Clarets at half-time and a very convincing performance after the lacklustre one at The Mem in midweek.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Austin tried a somewhat acrobatic volley only to see the ball fly over the bar. Just past the hour mark though, Torquay`s impressive new striker, Howe let rip with a belter from 25 yards giving Jensen no chance as the ball thundered into the back of the net with a little help from the bar. 2-1 then after 61 minutes played.
Eddie Howe decided to make his first substitution two minutes after the goal bringing on McCann to replace Bartley on 63 minutes. Torquay at this point had their tails up looking for an equaliser and on 67 minutes Jensen saved a long range effort from Kee.
On 71 minutes, it was time for Howe to make some more changes so on came Duff, Fox and MacDonald replacing Mee, Easton and Elliott.
Austin on the right side of the box tried his luck on 73 minutes but his rising shot failed to beat Gulls keeper, Rice. Rice again came to the rescue denying Austin just a minute later after the former Swindon striker picked up an header from Jay Rodriguez only to see his shot saved.
With 13 minutes of normal time to go, the rest of the lads remaining on the bench got their chance including young Steven Hewitt. He joined Long, Fletcher and Stewart with the four of them replacing Rodriguez, Wallace, Edgar and Jensen.
The changes appeared to work with the Clarets lead restored to a two goal advantage two minutes after the substitutions. Alex MacDonald seems to be scoring freely these days in the pre-season friendlies and he added to his tally in the 79th minute although this time he was a tadge fortunate. After picking up the ball on the 18 yard line, he let rip with a shot that cannoned back off the post. The ball though hit the back of the luckless keeper to rebound back into the net and make the final score 3-1.
In the end then a job well done and a much better performance all round than the midweek shocker against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night. Just a pity the gloss of the victory and performance was tainted after the earlier news regarding Eagles and Mears.
Torquay: Rice, Nicholson, Ellis, Robertson, Saah, Mansell, Howe, Morris, McPhee, Lathrope, Atieno
Subs: Olenjic, Rowe-Turner, Kee, O`Kane, Mackin, Halpin, Oastler, Stevens, Yeoman, Spear
Number of Clarets fans at the game: 390