Burnley Flop as Royals Shade It!
Saturday 15th October 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets, vastly improved of late put in a shocker of a performance against Reading at home on Saturday going down 1-0 thanks to a Royals goal deep into added time. Reading`s Jay Tabb had been knocked unconscious with 20 minutes to go after taking a fiercely cleared ball by Grant full on in the face. He was out cold for 30 seconds and was then stretchered off in a neck brace for hospital treatment. It looked serious but thankfully the news today is that he is fine and recovering well from his ordeal. The end-result on the pitch though, with the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes was nine minutes of added time. It looked set to end in a dreary, dull and dire goalless draw before substitute Jem Karacan (who had replaced Tabb in the 72nd minute) broke all Clarets fans hearts by shading a victory for the Royals with a goal in the final minute of added time. We perhaps could have expected a defeat against Reading. We may have won the all-important semi-final play-offs games a few seasons back on our way to promotion but Reading still remain a bit of a bogey team. The Royals thumped us 4-0 last season at home and got the double over us, indeed they have won eight out of the last eleven meetings so it was perhaps not too surprising that they took all the spoils again on Saturday. Our performance though in this game was dreadful and to be honest we did not deserve to win although a draw may have been a fairer result.
Both sides looked pretty poor but none more so than the disappointing Clarets who failed to get out of first gear at any time during the match, lacking energy and urgency for most of the game. Burnley seemed to resort to ineffective hoof ball instead of being creative in midfield and our strikers were nowhere to be seen for most of the game. Only Marvin Bartley showed any passion and determination to try and get something from this clash and he must have been frustrated by the performance of his lacklustre colleagues around him. Just what is it about International breaks this season? Just before the breaks we have now twice looked to be building momentum only to return after the break to suffer home defeats in shocking style. This is simply not good enough and there is no logical explanation for the drop in performance standards to such a degree. Going into this match against Reading we had been undefeated in three games after putting in some impressive performances against League leaders, Southampton (1-1 draw) and Forest (a tonking 5-1 win) at home before keeping our first clean sheet in 24 games in the match away to Millwall. That 1-0 victory against the Lions just before the international break was our first back-to-back win since April and we should have been buoyed up and ready to kick the Royals butts on Saturday. We should have gone into this game refreshed after the break and raring to go. Instead we looked tired, disinterested and lethargic
The fans expectations and hopes were high before kick-off but that all evaporated by the time of the final whistle. This miserable result and performance left a lot of Clarets fans frustrated and angry. The general consensus seems to be that if we continue to play with such contrasting inconsistency the best we can hope for now is probably a mid-table finish come the end of the season. At the moment, I think I would tend to agree, it is clear we might have a young squad with potential but that potential looks unlikely to be realised this season unless we can strengthen both in terms of quality and quantity. The team was crying out for old hands with experience yesterday and there was nobody to take up that mantle. The club seem happy to put up with the transition and they give the strong impression that would also not be too concerned if we didn`t get promotion this season. The Board certainly do not seem prepared to put any decent investment behind players to give Eddie Howe a greater chance of achieving Premier League status although all eyes will be on the January transfer window as well to see if that stance changes. We still have eyes on the loan market too but once again hope of a new signing this week went up in smoke despite Eddie Howe suggesting it was a possibility.
We should not throw in the towel just yet though. The Championship is notorious for teams being blessed with inconsistency and we all know form seems to go out the window so many times with virtually any team capable of beating any other on the day no matter what their position in the league table.
Burnley dropped one place to 15th spot after the Reading defeat but if Birmingham beat Leicester at home today (Sunday) we will drop another place. We now have 12 points from 10 games, just four points clear of the drop-zone but also just six points off a play-offs spot with a game in hand over most other clubs. Still all to play for of course and our fortunes could go either way but you just sense things will be stacked against us if we suffer any further injuries or suspensions and fail to supplement our squad further.
We now face three tricky away games on the trot and it is important we get something from these matches or confidence could really plummet. It`s Barnsley at Oakwell on Tuesday night followed by a trip to the Ricoh to face Coventry City this Saturday. These are another two clubs who are hardly setting the world alight in the Championship this season with both currently below the Clarets in the league table. We should be capable of getting some points from both these matches although of course there is no such thing as an easy game. If we don`t we could be on a low ebb going into the Carling Cup 4th Round clash away to Cardiff City a week on Tuesday and we need our spirits lifted before local rivals, Blackpool come-a-visiting in our next home league game on Saturday 29th October.
David Edgar got the all clear ahead of this game despite concerns that he may have been shattered and still suffering jet lag after representing Canada during the international break in their CONCACAF World Cup 2014 qualifying games over the pond!
With Edgar keeping his place in the starting eleven, Ben Mee had to be content with a place on the bench yet again. Indeed Eddie Howe kept faith with the same sixteen for the fourth game running and there was perhaps no surprise in that considering our last three excellent performances in which we remained undefeated.
We lined up therefore as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Mee, Marney, Treacy, Hines
Full Match Report
Clarets fans were buoyant ahead of this game and on a nice bright warm day in Burnley hopes were high as Chris McCann led his side out onto the pitch. West Midlands referee, Phil Gibbs got the match underway and for the first few minutes Burnley looked to be taking the game by the scruff of the neck and putting the Royals under pressure. Rodriguez angled in a shot that took a deflection and flew across the face of goal with Austin unable to pounce. A throw in from Trippier allowed Wallace to unleash a shot but his left-footed effort flew over the top. Trippier and Wallace continued to link well down the right and set-up chances for both Rodriguez and Austin but in the end their effort came to nothing and gradually Reading started to get back into the match.
It was the Royals who came closest to taking the lead in the 27th minute. Gorkss put through a long ball that got the better of Amougou allowing Adam Le Fondre to get in behind the Clarets defence. The angle was tight but the former Rotherham striker got in a good shot that Grant did well to save at his near post. Le Fondre then thought he had scored after getting the ball in the net a few moments later. Grant had parried away a McAnuff cross into the path of Le Fondre but the assistant referee had raised his flag and the goal did not count much to the relief of Clarets fans.
Burnley were under pressure at this stage but managed to weather the storm during a 15 minute spell in which the Royals looked certain to take the lead. In first half stoppage time the Clarets had one last chance to break the deadlock before half-time. A Wallace shot took a deflection but the Royals keeper just managed to stop the ball looping under the crossbar.
A very disappointing first 45 minutes then with very few chances to talk about. Could things improve in the second half?
In truth no and our attack continued to look totally ineffective so much so that with just nine minutes of the second half played, Howe made his first substitution bringing on Treacy to try and inject some pace and steel into our wing play. Stanislas was the one to make way.
It made very little difference though although Bartley and Austin linked well to set up our best chance of the half. The impressive Bartley charged forward from midfield on a powerful run and then unleashed a shot after playing a neat one-two with Austin. Federici though was equal to the danger and managed to block the attempt at the foot of the post.
The game was rapidly becoming a dull, dire affair but all Clarets fans knew that a goal had to come soon for the Clarets with the possibility of losing out to Reading on the break always a threat.
The Royals too could sense this was anybody`s game and they came close to opening the scoring from a Mills corner. Simon Church attempted to head home but just failed in his attempt. The Royals then suffered the loss of Jay Tabb after he was knocked unconscious but it didn`t seem to put them off their stride. Noel Hunt came close from a Robson-Kanu cross but could only put his header just wide of target. The Royals then replaced Church with Manset in the 81st minute and his first touch of the ball involved curling an attempted shot on goal just wide.
Two minutes later and Reading were appealing for a penalty! It was former Reading defender, Andre Amougou (formerly known as Bikey) who was lucky to get away with it after seemingly bringing down Le Fondre. The linesman was surrounded by protesting Reading players but it came to nothing although Amougou was booked for suggesting too strongly that the player had dived!
After the treatment required to Jay Tabb it was no surprise when the fourth official flashed nine minutes of added time but the question was whether Burnley could now keep their second clean sheet in as many games. They clearly didn`t look like scoring one! It seemingly looked like both teams were going to have to settle for a goalless draw before Hunt got over a cross for Karacan to stab home a shot with just 30 seconds of added time remaining! Miserable end to a miserable afternoon then for all Clarets fans and such a disappointing result! Now we have to pick ourselves up again and try and get the form back we had before the cursed International break starting against Barnsley at Oakwell on Tuesday night
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Stanislas (Treacy 55), Rodriguez, Austin
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Mee, Marney, Hines
Booked: Trippier, Amougou
Reading: Federici, Pearce, Mills, Gorkss, Cummings, Tabb (Karacan 72), Leigertwood, McAnuff (Hunt 46), Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Church (Manset 81)
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Harte
Goal: Karacan 90+9
Possession: 54% Burnley, 46% Reading (Source BBC Sport)
Ref: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)