Ricoh-very and Victory for Clarets!
The Ricoh Arena
Saturday 22nd October 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
Burnley came away with a smashing victory after beating Coventry 2-1 in the Ricoh Arena on Saturday. It was just the boost we needed after two defeats in our previous two games against Reading at Turf Moor and Barnsley at Oakwell. The win was even sweeter since we had to come from behind after going a goal down just before the hour mark. We rallied though and got a well-deserved equaliser thanks to a Wallace goal in the 73rd minute. Our chances of sneaking a win improved in the 80th minute when Coventry were reduced to ten men following a straight red for Gael Birgimana and it was left to Charlie Austin to poach the winner deep into added time. The only sad note on this perfect day was the news that Jay Rodriguez had suffered a broken nose after collecting a blow to the face and being immediately substituted in the 75th minute.
The valuable three points against the Sky Blues lifted the Clarets away from the ever looming drop zone. We went up one spot to 16th place but crucially with 15 points from 12 games we are now five points clear of third from bottom club, Watford with a game in hand. If will also be pleasing news to the 'glass half full types` who can now argue that if we win our game in hand we could be just three points behind the play-offs spots. Somehow now we have to consolidate and avoid hitting another bad pitch if we are to progress up the table and begin to challenge for promotion. Let`s hope we will be buoyed up by our victory against the Sky Blues and can go into the Carling Cup 4th round clash away to Cardiff on Tuesday night refreshed and in good spirit. If we can beat the Bluebirds next and progress to the Carling Cup quarter finals we really would be on a high. Another away win would really set us up nicely for our next league game when we face local rivals, Blackpool at home next Saturday in the late kick-off televised live match.
The big question ahead of this game was whether Eddie Howe would remain loyal with the same sixteen for the fifth game running despite the two previous poor performances and defeats against Reading at home and Barnsley away.
Surprisingly only one change to the starting eleven was made and it was an odd one at that! Charlie Austin for some reason was dropped back to the bench and although he had been nursing a slight toe problem during the week it had been thought he was still fit enough to play. His replacement was Keith Treacy and that also looked odd on paper since we now had three wingers` on the pitch with Stanislas and Wallace also named in the starting eleven. All was revealed though as the game got underway with Stanislas playing in the hole behind Jay Rodriguez and the team experimenting with a 4-4-1-1 formation. A similar tactic had been employed unsuccessfully in our last game at Oakwell and in that match we finished up reverting back to 4-4-2 in the second half. However it had been Wallace in that clash who had played in the hole this time supporting Austin alone up front with Jay Rodriguez playing a wider role.
With Stanislas failing to click on the wing in recent games, maybe Howe thought he might stand a better chance playing more centrally in support of a striker.
The change a lot of Clarets were expecting in the back four did not in the end take place. David Edgar had been making mistakes recently and there was some thought that Ben Mee could be set for a return. The Manchester City loan defender had been sidelined and on the bench since recovering from a head injury after being knocked unconscious in the game away to Peterborough back in September. Howe though decided to keep faith in his Canadian international and Mee once more had to be content warming the bench.
There was one further change to the sixteen with Alex MacDonald being recalled back to the bench at the expense of Dean Marney.
In summary then we lined up as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, Wallace McCann, Bartley, Stanislas, Treacy, Rodriguez
Subs: Stewart, Mee, MacDonald, Austin, Hines
Full Match Report
Oxfordshire referee, Graham Scott got the game underway and not for the first time recently Burnley would start brightly and fade. Our first real chance came in the 10th minute from a corner. In their now well-rehearsed routine, Wallace took the corner only for David Edgar to step-over the ball and set up Rodriguez. Sadly though Jay Rod miscued and the Sky Blues survived.
The game quite simply now deteriorated into a dire, scrappy affair and it was simply awful to watch for the first 30 minutes or so. The Clarets seemed to lack steel in defence and for a period looked incapable of getting out of their own half as Coventry ramped up the pressure .The Stanislas experiment was clearly failing with Jay Rodriguez trying his best but looking isolated up front. Burnley just couldn`t seem to keep possession and their build-up play at times was non-existent. Eddie Howe had seen enough and in a surprise move, five minutes before half-time decided to take off Treacy and bring on Austin. Treacy did not appear to be injured so it looked like a tactical change but whatever it was early signs suggested it was going to work! Two minutes before the break and playing our best spell of the half, we nearly grabbed the lead. It was yet another Wallace corner that almost did the damage. This time however it was a more orthodox cross from the corner flag. Amougou charging in dived to head the ball as it came over but his sterling effort t was just a little too high and the ball flew over the bar.
Coventry had their moments too in the first 45 minutes and it was lucky for the Clarets that Lee Grant was on top form. He had kept them at bay for most of the first half in the few chances they had created and he would now pull off a great save to ensure the first half finished goalless. McDonald suddenly found himself in the clear with only the keeper to beat and fired in a shot that looked certain to put the Sky Blues 1-0 up. Grant though flew to his right to make a superb save and push the ball away to safety.
Despite the last minute scare and a pretty dire first half, Howe would probably have been the happier of the two managers content that his late substitution appeared to have done the trick.
He made no further changes for the start of the second half and the Clarets continued to look more determined and skilful with their new line up and tactics. Seven minutes into the second half, Burnley nearly broke the deadlock after a long range effort from Stanislas nearly got the better of Sky Blues keeper Joe Murphy; somehow though Murphy managed to scramble the ball away.
Very much against the run of play Coventry took the lead on 59 minutes managing to break the hearts of the 987 Clarets fans who had made the journey down to the Ricoh.
Coventry left-back Chris Hussey charging down the flank got over a pin-point accurate cross for a diving McDonald to head home from six yards out and put the Sky Blues 1-0 up.
At this point all Clarets fans feared the worse and we looked to be heading for our third defeat on the bounce with the relegation zone ever looming. Burnley though showed great resilience to try and get back in this game and you always felt an equaliser could be on the cards.
We tried to hit back almost immediately after their goal and the all important equaliser nearly came after just five minutes from Coventry taking the lead. Austin attempted a volley from a Stanislas cross but the ball bounced towards goal before hitting the post and coming back into play. There was Austin again to have a second go but this time he screwed the ball wide. The former Swindon striker was certainly in the thick of things now and moments later he nearly scored again when at full stretch he put yet another Stanislas cross just wide.
In the 58th minute, Ben Mee came on from the bench to make an appearance for the first time since picking up a head injury at London Road back in September. Some may have thought Edgar was the most likely to be replaced but Howe chose instead to bring off Amougou.
The Clarets however were now pressing for an equaliser and certainly looked to be the most likely to get the next goal. It finally came in the 73rd minute. Rodriguez getting up between two defenders latched onto the ball from a Mee cross and headed down to put Wallace clear following a clever dummy from Austin. Wallace from just inside the box made no mistake with his left footed shot and the ball sailed into the top corner to make it 1-1. The only sad outcome as everybody associated with Burnley FC were celebrating the goal was that Jay Rod had taken one in the face before getting in the header. He had to be immediately taken off and it was later revealed he had broken his nose.
Zavon Hines came on to replace the unfortunate striker and now had 15 minutes to try and make an impression.
Coventry now tried to raise their game and nearly took the lead again from a free-kick taken by Clingan. His shot looked to be going directly into the top corner before Grant came from nowhere to make yet another fantastic save and deny the Coventry captain.
The game could have gone either way at this stage but Burnley`s chances of nicking all three points got better in the 80th minute thanks to a straight red card for young midfielder, Gael Birgimana. The young lad celebrating his 18th birthday charged in on Kieran Trippier with both feet flying and although he made contact with the ball, the referee had no option but to give the youngster a miserable birthday present showing him a straight red card. There was no doubt about the decision in this case and Coventry would now have to hold on with ten men.
The red card though was the seventh shown by referee, Graham Scott this season in just 14 games and by the end of this match another 8 yellow cards would have additionally been flashed making a total of 66 or about 4.5 cards/game! Some record and in this match the card tally did not seem to reflect the nature of the game in terms of being bad tempered.
The Clarets now with a one man advantage could sense blood and Coventry were now on the back foot with the keeper trying everything he could to waste time and count down the clock. In the end it would be a tactic he would regret since he would eventually get a booking for time wasting.
With Burnley now throwing everybody forward, the Coventry keeper did well to keep out attempts by both Hines and Trippier but his luck would not last for long and he only had himself to blame when the fourth official announced six minutes of added time and the Clarets found the winner in that period. Chris McCann deep into added time latched onto a corner and poked the ball through a crowded penalty area to find Austin who spun round to fire home and secure all three points for the Clarets.
Austin`s eight goal of the season ensuring Burnley`s third away win of 2011-12 could not have come at a better time and after a miserable last couple of weeks, Clarets fans at long last had something to cheer about.
Coventry: Murphy, Keogh, Hussey, Wood, Christie, Clingan, Bell, Thomas, Bigirimana, Jutkiewicz, McDonald (O'Donovan 68)
Subs Not Used: Dunn, Cameron, Baker, Deegan
Goal: McDonald 59
Booked: Straight Red card for Bigirimana; Yellow cards for Murphy, Wood and Bell
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou (Mee 65), Easton, Wallace McCann, Bartley, Stanislas, Treacy (Austin 40), Rodriguez (Hines 75)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, MacDonald
Goals: Wallace 73, Austin 90+4
Booked: Yellow cards for Rodriguez, Bartley, Wallace, Edgar and Hines
Possession: 40% Coventry City, 60% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
However the shape of the team and their spirit seemed to change for the better after Austin came on to replace Treacy just five minutes before half-time.
In essence then it would be more appropriate to name a 'Star Player` based on the much improved second half performance especially in the fight back period after going a goal down just before the hour mark.
Wallace would be a contender for the award. His goal was well-taken and his energy and determination was impressive throughout the game but in the end you would probably have to give the award to Charlie Austin. His influence seemed to change our fortunes and he is one of the best poachers of goals I have seen since Andy Gray lined up for the Clarets.
Austin knows where the goal is and goes for it. He may have failed to convert a lot of chances but in the end it all came good and he got our winner in added time.