A Jay Rod for the Black Cats Own Back!
Saturday 30th July 2011 @ 3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets completed their sequence of pre-season friendlies with a handsome victory over Premier League opposition on Saturday. Steve Bruce`s Sunderland were the visitors to Turf Moor and despite the Black Cats bringing in nine new players during the summer they were unable to contain 'No permanent signing yet` Burnley who came out worthy 1-0 winners thanks to a first half goal from a penalty by Jay Rodriguez just past the half-way mark. Their 'own back`, Titus Bramble was the culprit brnging down Rodriguez after clipping his heels in the area and it was Jay Rod himself who stepped up to take the penalty and thump the ball past Westwood right down the middle of the goal!
Clarets fans wondering who would now be the penalty king for Burnley this season following the departure of Grezza and Eagles would now appear to have their answer!
Another conundrum was also resolved following confirmation that Chris McCann would be our new captain this season and he duly led the team out.
Some Clarets fans though might have been hoping there was some evidence from the Sunderland friendly regarding our starting eleven and subs bench for our opening game of the 2011-12 season at home to Watford next Saturday but that still remains anybody`s guess based on the friendly team selection. Eddie Howe certainly seems to playing his cards close to his chest in that regard and indeed he made so many changes to his side in the second-half many Clarets fans will be forgiven for not knowing who exactly was playing with so many young players on show! That task was made even harder considering there was no announcement of the changes made on the tannoy plus the fact that the players names were not displayed on the back of their shirts either!
What was the starting eleven then? Did that give a clue to Howe`s thinking for the season ahead? The conclusion must be not sure unless Clarets fans think the following line-up could be the one to start against Watford also:
Jensen, Trippier, Amougou, Mee, Fox, Wallace, Marney, Rodriguez, Paterson, Elliott.
The subs named were basically the rest of the squad but we have to remember also that this season only five rather than seven substitutes will be allowed in the Championship and lower league matches. However these were the substitutes named for the friendly:
Subs: Grant, Stewart, Edgar, Duff, Easton, Bartley, Austin, MacDonald, Long, McKee, Hewitt, Knowles, Harvey,
Amougou? Who the hell is he? Some Clarets fans may well be asking that if they have not been tuning in to Burnley websites and Twitter recently! Sadly, this is not a new permanent signing or even another loan but actually 'The artist formerly known as...Bikey`.
Andre has decided for family reasons to change his maternal name, Bikey to his paternal surname, Amougou. He will now sport that name on the back of his shirt, which I am sure will please those Andre fans who have forked out £50 to have 'Bikey` displayed on the back of their shirts.
In many ways, this again was a game of two halves and although this was a good steady performance by the Clarets with lots of positives there were also quite a few worrying negatives. The first half was particularly impressive although at times we did seem to lack width and it is difficult to recall many crosses from the flanks. Paterson at times up front often looked isolated although he did link well with Rodriguez on the odd occasion. In the second half, with Austin now on the pitch we seemed to be suffering from the same problem. Austin did not have many clear cut chances at all and seemed to struggle to make an impression. A lot will be expected from both Pato and Austin this season and it was a little bit worrying that they failed to inspire.
It is however ONLY a friendly as we continue to be reminded so what you read into these games may not be justified although at this stage of the club`s preparations for the new season, you may have expected a little bit more from the lads especially in the second half.
It was also clear to see that we do not have enough depth of experience in the squad and that it is vitally important that Eddie Howe gets the two-three players he appears to be seeking before too long. The youngsters certainly had the spirit in the second-half but I would not want to go a whole season falling back on the development squad to cut the mustard once the injuries and suspensions start kicking-in.
To listen to some Clarets fans of the 'happy-clappy` variety you would think that we are now going to be dead-certs for promotion on the evidence of this win against Sunderland but maybe that was down to sun-stroke addling a few brains on a blistering hot day at the Turf. Don`t get me wrong, as I said before there were lots of positives from this game, most notably Ben Mee in the centre of defence who looked a tower of strength in the first half before being substituted for the start of the second half. Generally it was a good, solid performance with lots of nice touches and some classy approach work but it would be folly to think this current squad would be good enough to mount a promotion challenge on the evidence of this performance. I was speaking to Paul Fletcher who dropped into our Clarets Trust Board meeting before the game and he sounded pretty confident that we could be close to making at least one new signing this week. Let`s hope so because we are certainly light in some areas at the moment. We need a tall striker, another Eaglesesque winger and probably at least another central midfielder at the moment especially after losing the quality of Jack Cork. New loan, Keiran Trippier slotting in at right back had a reasonable game without being exciting although I am not sure at this stage he has the same qualities as Tyrone Mears but only time will tell.
With the game underway, the first meaning action took place in the 18th minute. Wallace had a go from 30 yards out after picking up a loose ball. The rising shot though was comfortably handled by the Black Cats keeper. One minute later and it looked like we had a certain penalty only to be denied by the referee.
Amougou got in a long ball and with Rodriguez about to pounce and attempt a volley in the area; a dozy Titus Bramble got in what looked like a late, clumsy foul. Despite appeals, the referee, Colin Webster decided that Bramble had made contact with the ball first and waved play 0n.
Sunderland at this stage looked solid without being impressive. They they did have quite a bit of possession although were unable to give the Burnley defence too many problems. Their best effort came when Jack Colbeck on the left side of the area got on the end of a cross (or was it a shot?) sliding the ball just wide.
It was the Clarets though who got the breakthrough and after being denied what looked like a certain penalty earlier they finally got some justice being awarded a spot kick with that man, Titus Bramble the culprit again! Rodriguez was also once more involved. This time Bramble`s attempt to clip the heels of the England Under 21 international in the area did not go unnoticed and the referee pointed to the spot. Jay Rod blasted the ball home from 12 yards, thumping it straight down the middle to put the Clarets deservedly 1-0 up.
It was nearly 2-0 almost immediately after. Rodriguez, McCann and Paterson were involved in some nice approach work with eventually Wade Elliott picking up the ball on the right. He attempted to shoot first time but hit the ball too close to Westwood and the keeper saved the danger.
New signing, striker Connor Wickham should have done better for the Black Cats with half-time approaching. You would have thought the £9 million striker could and should have done better six yards in front of goal but somehow he made a hash of his shot sending the ball wide!
So it was a pleasing 1-0 score line to Burnley at half-time with Clarets fans now enjoying both the sun and the game after a very encouraging and rewarding albeit unspectacular first 45 minutes.
Clarets fans expecting to see no changes for the start of the second-half based on recent friendlies were in for a shock when no less than six changes were announced for the restart. On came Austin for Pato, Easton for Fox and Bartley for Marney. Brian Jensen too made way for Lee Grant in goal and we had a new central defence pairing with Duff and Edgar coming on to replace the highly effective, Mee and the chap with the identity crisis..Bikey-Amadoo, doo doo. Oh sod it, André!!
The second half flattered to deceive to be honest and the players seemed to be wilting in the sun, even the ones that had come on with fresh legs! The first 15 minutes was a chore for the spectators with very little action at either end.
Eddie Howe tried to freshen things up again this time bringing on Alex MacDonald to replace Rodriguez on the hour mark and the Scotland Under 21 international, having a good pre-season so far soon nearly added to his summer goal tally. A blunder by the Sunderland defence allowed an alert MacDonald to pounce and after racing clear the 21 year old spotted a chance to chip the keeper. Westwood though was also alert to the danger and the score remained 1-0.
What followed next was a procession of youth taking the stage!
On came Long after 67 minutes to replace Trippier!
In the 72nd minute a triple substitution was made and McKee, Knowles and Hewitt took the field replacing McCann, Wallace and Elliott. It was perhaps inevitable now that experience, especially Premier League experience would now begin to dominate against youthful exuberance and so it would prove but the kids showed great resilience and attitude to deny the Black Cats an equaliser. Sunderland substitute, Dong-won had to settle for Dong-lost despite two efforts in the final 10 minutes that came close to letting the Black Cats off the hook. One shot was too high and wide and the other caused no problem for Grant.
That was it really, 1-0 Clarets final score in what was a rewarding if not spectacular win! The true test of course comes next week when Watford and Chris Iwelumo arrive at Turf Moor for the season opener.
Burnley: Jensen (Grant 45), Trippier (Long 67), Fox (Easton 45), Amougou (Edgar 45), Mee (Duff 45), McCann (McKee 72), Wallace (Knowles 72), Marney (Bartley 45), Rodriguez (MacDonald 60), Paterson (Austin 45), Elliott (Hewitt 72).
Subs: Not Used Harvey, Stewart
Sunderland (starting): Westwood, Bardsley, Richardson, Bramble, Brown, Cattermole, Elmohamady, Gardner, Gyan, Wickham, Colback
Subs Not Used: Larsson, Mignolet, Malbranque, Vaughan, Ferdinand, Dong-won, Sessegnon, Laing
Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear)