Clarets Storm Before The Lull!
Saturday 24th September 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
Burnley looked like a team re-born against League leaders, Southampton at Turf Moor on Saturday and dominated most of the game especially in the first half. A great strike from Austin in the 53rd minute gave the Clarets a deserved lead but sadly Saints substitute, Morgan Schneiderlin equalised with ten minutes to play and at the final whistle we had to be happy with a 1-1 draw and just a point. Burnley after storming out of the blocks basically ran out of steam in the end but this was a performance that gave hope to everybody with a Clarets heart!
To give Southampton their due they never gave up and they looked the most likely to snatch victory in the dying minutes of this match but we held on for the point. Most Clarets fans though would quite happily have taken that point before the start of the game with many fearing the worst. It confirms how well we must have played with Clarets fans feeling in the end this was more two points lost rather than a point gained.
We certainly took the game to the Saints though and neutral fans would have been forgiven for thinking Burnley were riding high in the league not the Championship new boys. This was a performance that gave me yet more faith that given time we could have a powerful team on our hands if only we could show some consistency and continue to play like we did on Saturday and against Derby at Pride Park a few weeks ago.
The big question remains though, do we have the time and are we good enough to avoid the drop this season with the club admitting the team is under strength, lacks experience and is currently in transition? On the evidence of Saturday`s performance we should survive easily although it might already be too late to mount an effective promotion campaign.
Despite so many positives and a vastly improved performance compared to recent games the reality remains that Burnley still have to win a league game at Turf Moor this season. We have also now gone 22 games without keeping a clean sheet something we really have to address and quickly! Our position in the league table is still precarious too. The draw keeps us in the danger zone at the wrong end of the table. We do have a game in hand still over all the teams around us although that match is a tricky one away to Birmingham to be played in November. At the moment, we are in 21st spot with just six points from seven league games and we are avoiding the bottom three places purely on goal difference. The bottom club, Doncaster Rovers who sacked their manager Sean O`Driscoll in midweek also recorded their first win on Saturday after beating Palace 1-0 at the Keepmoat. That victory means they are now just two points behind the Clarets (albeit having played a game more) and it is vitally important we beat Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor in our next game on Tuesday night before the pressure begins to mount and confidence suffers. Let`s hope we have now turned a corner and don`t return to the Jekyll & Hyde tendencies of late! In the mean time let`s take heart from a great performance against high-flying Southampton remembering that we are only the second club this season not to have lost to the Championship new boys!
The Team Sheet
Eddie Howe had selected the same starting eleven for the last three league games and although the formula worked against Derby County at Pride Park, disappointing defeats in the next two games at home to Middlesbrough and away to Peterborough suggested we needed to try something different.
Some injuries from the London Road battle against Posh had forced Eddie Howe`s hand for the midweek Carling Cup game against MK Dons and some of those players given their chance, rose to the occasion and managed to keep their places for the Saints clash. Lee Grant continued in goal, with Brian Jensen still sidelined with a groin injury and Amougou also was preferred in the centre of defence despite Ben Mee having recovered from his head injury. Mee, who had been knocked unconscious in the Posh game, had to be content with a place on the bench. Marvin Bartley also continued in midfield, with Dean Marney dropping back to the bench and captain, Chris McCann returning to the starting eleven.
There was one further change as well, with Junior Stanislas being given a start after being cup-tied against MK Dons. The subs bench too had a different feel about it with Keith Treacy not even making the sixteen and Alex MacDonald making a welcome return.
The Full Match Report
Premier League referee, Anthony Taylor got the game underway on an overcast, showery night in Burnley.
The Clarets started brightly enough with all Burnley fans hoping we wouldn`t concede early for once. We did get a scare though in the 8th minute when former Clarets left-back, Danny Fox pulled off an inch-perfect cross to find hot-shot striker, Rickie Lambert in a dangerous position. He should have done better with his header though but thankfully didn`t! Fox by now despite polite applause along with Jack Cork when they came onto the pitch was already getting a bit of a frosty reception from Burnley fans and that grew more acrimonious when our former left back seemed to hack away at Trippier sticking out a leg in retaliation. Despite protests for at least a yellow card, Fox got away with a verbal telling-off from the ref.
Burnley were the team doing all the pressing in the first half without really getting any clear-cut chances but the Saints defence were certainly not being given an easy time!
After just 15 minutes, the Clarets had their best chance to get their noses in front. Saints keeper, Kelvin Davis was at fault initially for a poor pass out to Jack Cork. A more-lively looking Chris McCann than of late, pounced to rob Cork and set-up Austin to shoot. The shot though was blocked by Jose Fonte much to the relief of a Saints defence knowing they were not going to get all their own way in this one despite our lowly position!
Edgar and Easton then linked well on the break to give Jay Rodriguez a chance on goal. Hooiveld though got in the way of his shot and the danger passed. Marvin Bartley was really impressing in the engine room at this stage but now he thought he might have a go at scoring himself unleashing a shot that was deflected just wide of target.
The breakthrough goal though eluded the Clarets in the first half but the Saints had certainly known they had been in a game; so much so Nigel Adkins felt obliged to change his game plan in the break and bring on another former Claret for the start of the second-half. Richard Chaplow came on to replace Guly and the strategy seemed to work with the Clarets not getting all their own way so much from now on. Chaplow almost immediately after coming on nearly opened the scoring for the Saints after latching on to a cross from Connolly but Grant was equal to the threat and mopped up the ball.
Both Trippier and Easton had been charging down the flanks all during the match putting over crosses to test the nervy looking Saints back-four. Now one such cross, this time from Easton would lead to Burnley opening the scoring. Rodriguez headed down the cross to find Austin and he made no mistake hooking his shot into the net to get his sixth goal of this season`s campaign and his fourth in as many games against Southampton.
The Saints clearly hurt by going behind to a club fourth from bottom, nearly hit back almost immediately. Frazer Richardson let rip with a shot that Grant was equal to and on the hour mark Lambert missed a sitter. After latching onto Richardson`s cross, Lambert should have headed home in style but somehow instead headed the ball down into the grass with the ball then hitting the underside of the bar and sailing way to safety.
Burnley were visibly tiring at this stage and Southampton could sense blood. Howe though realised the danger and tried to freshen things up bringing on Marney for Stanislas after 73 minutes of play. Southampton though were piling on the pressure still and had Lallana not fluffed a couple of chances for Saints from a Fox cross in each case, Burnley might already have been fighting to hold onto a point!
Disaster though did strike for the Clarets with ten minutes to play just as it seemed our luck might for once hold out. The damage came initially from a McCann mistake after losing possession. The ball came over from yet another Fox cross and this time Schneiderlin, who had only been on the pitch for eighteen minutes charged in from midfield through a packed penalty area to shoot past Grant from eight yards out.
If anyone was now going to get the winner, the odds were on Southampton but the Clarets nearly sneaked it when Amougou got in a close glancing header from a Trippier corner.
Southampton though had one last attempt in injury time that nearly stole all the points which quite frankly would have been a gross injustice. Lalluna charging through the middle managed to squeeze out both Trippier and Amougou before unleashing a shot that Grant was thankfully equal to saving the day for the Clarets. Lalluna may well have thought he spotted something during his attempt because he was booked after the final whistle for arguing forcibly with the referee.
Oh well, we have to be comforted by this result and take the loss of two points on the chin without losing heart or confidence. Three points against Forest at home on Tuesday night and things could look a lot rosier!
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, McCann, Wallace (Hines 87), Stanislas (Marney 73), Bartley, Rodriguez, Austin (MacDonald 90+2)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Mee
Goal: Austin 53
Southampton: Davis, Richardson, Fonte, Fox, Hooiveld, Cork, Guly (Chaplow 46), Hammond (Schneiderlin 62), Lallana, Lambert, Connolly
Subs Not Used: Bialkowski, Martin, De Ridder
Goal: Schneiderlin 80
Possession: 51% Burnley, 49% Southampton
Ref: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)