No Luck Clarets Leeds to Low Point!
Saturday 19th November 2011 @12:45pm Kick-Off
It has been a miserable week for the Clarets. Financial accounts released during the week painted a pretty bleak future for the club with a loss of £4 million announced for the last financial year despite the hype of a season in the top flight and parachute payments. It would also appear things were not well in the corridors of power at Turf Moor with Chief Executive, Paul Fletcher announcing his intention to resign at the end of his contract following a disagreement with an unnamed director over the club`s flagship University & College of Football Business (UCFB) Project.
So could things improve on the field with the side currently struggling to find any consistency and getting ever closer to the drop zone? The answer in short was no after losing 2-1 to Leeds United at Turf Moor on Saturday. Burnley have now gone three league games without a win including two home defeats, and are now fourth from bottom. If third-from-bottom club Bristol City manage to beat Millwall at the Den Stadium in today`s Sunday clash they will be just two points behind the Clarets. This is not what Clarets fans signed-up to at the start of the season and perhaps now a few home truths are beginning to hit home amongst some fans who to date have tried to put a positive spin on all our woes. I certainly hope a few things are hitting home at Board level with the team at the moment heading for a relegation dogfight but will they be prepared to try and do anything about it with the January transfer window rapidly approaching? The lack of money and lack of calculated risk taking over the years suggests not. It really is as though our brief sojourn in the Premier League never happened. We now seem to be in a worse financial pickle than we were before our promotion season, struggling even to maintain our Championship status and facing threats from the FIFA Fair Play Ruling and EPPP regulations. Where did it all go so horribly wrong? The questions have to keep being asked and there can be no excuses.
When you are down, the luck then also seems to start going against you and yesterday was no exception. This was a pretty good performance as well by the Clarets compared to recent games and we managed to get our noses in front in the 10th minute thanks to a well-taken goal by Jay Rodriguez. It was looking good at this point with Leeds failing to inspire and Burnley pressing to double their lead.
Out of the blue though, disaster than struck on 29 minutes when Charlie Austin once again managed to dislocate his shoulder after a heavy fall. He had to be given oxygen and was clearly in pain and distress before having to be stretchered off. An official announcement is awaited but our leading goal scorer looks set for another long lay-off further hampering our survival chances.
Did Eddie Howe see something bad in the stars earlier this week prompting him to bring in another striker on Friday? Did he have a premonition? Many Clarets could not quite see the priority for another striker with our defence crying out for improvement but nonetheless Sam Vokes duly arrived on loan from Wolves on Friday and with the benefit of hindsight, it`s just as well he did!
He might not have wanted to make his debut for the Clarets under such unfortunate circumstances but the Welsh International was given his chance nonetheless and came on from the bench to replace Austin wearing the number 19 shirt.
The Clarets continued to look the more dominant of the two teams in the first half and went into the break 1-0 up.
The second half also started brightly for the Clarets and once again we took the game to Leeds and looked the most likely to score the next goal. If Treacy had managed to avoid hitting the woodwork with his long-range effort, the end result may have been totally different. Burnley certainly needed a second goal to be certain of victory and when Snodgrass equalised for Leeds in the 76th minute you just sensed that our luck would desert us again.
Last season we surrendered a two goal lead at Turf Moor to finish up losing 3-2! This time we would once again surrender a lead although this time only the one goal. Snodgrass completed his brace in the 89th minute to make it yet another miserable day for Clarets fans. I think what makes it worse it that Leeds have come through their ordeal of Administration and a few seasons in League 1 to now challenge once again for Premier League status. Their victory over the Clarets on Saturday sees them in 5th spot and yet 'ickle old Burnley having tasted Premier League football and claiming to be proud of spending wisely despite getting relegated have posted a £4 million debt and seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Somebody, please, PLEASE save our club before it is too late!!
Oh by the way we are now NINE points away from the play-offs and play our game-in-hand on Tuesday night away to Birmingham. Brum to make matters worse have not lost at St Andrews all season picking up four wins and three draws from their seven league games at home so far. Lose that one and things really could look bleak considering we then play 6th place Hull City at the KC Stadium the following Saturday! Hull City in 6th? So much for their financial plight too!
I must admit now I am getting a bit weary of all this. The only motivation these days seems to be seeing Bolton, Blackburn and Preston struggle. Wouldn`t it be typical if the two Premier League clubs get demoted and we follow Preston into League 1? It doesn`t bear thinking about!
There were a few surprises for Clarets fans after hearing the team sheet. Ross Wallace first of all was sidelined with a hamstring injury giving Keith Treacy a chance to shine after being named in the starting eleven. Michael Duff also returned adding depth and experience to the back four in place of Ben Mee. Mee lost out completely with Amougou being the centre back cover on the bench.
Striker Sam Vokes (only signed on loan from Wolves on Friday) went straight into the sixteen after being named on the bench.
Our line up in a basic 4-4-2 formation was therefore as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Easton, Treacy, McCann, Bartley, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Amougou, Marney, Vokes, Hines
Full Match Report
Before this game, there was a one minute`s applause for Jimmy Adamson who sadly passed away recently. Jimmy of course was captain of our 1959-60 Division One Championship winning team and became a Burnley legend both as a player and as a manager. There was heartfelt applause from both sets of fans with Jimmy also having managed Leeds United during his career.
Cheshire referee, Scott Mathieson got the game underway on a dry, bright autumnal day in Burnley and it was the Clarets who came out with all guns blazing unsettling Leeds and looking the most likely to score first.
A much brighter looking Rodriguez was causing all sorts of problems for the Leeds back four and within ten minutes, the striker who had picked up the North West Championship Player of the Year for 2010-11 in midweek had put the Clarets ahead. Trippier on the right flank put over a perfect cross for Rodriguez to powerful head down past Leeds keeper, Alex McCarthy to make it 1-0 Burnley.
The Clarets continued to press in the first half with Leeds on the back foot and McCarthy seeing plenty of action. Keith Treacy dazzled his way into the box to unleash a low shot that looked to be on its way into the back of the net until McCarthy stuck out a leg to deny the former Preston winger.
In the 29th minute though, Austin fell awkwardly and dislocated his shoulder, the same injury that had kept him sidelined for most of last season. He had to be stretchered off. New loan signing, Sam Vokes came on to replace him.
Rodriguez had yet another attempt on goal saved by the busy but in-form keeper but McCarthy could only stand and stare as a curled effort from Chris McCann flew inches wide of the far post. McCann was looking like his old self again and at this stage despite the huge blow losing Austin the Clarets still looked determine to increase their lead.
The on-loan Reading keeper rescued Leeds again after once more denying Treacy this time in stoppage time. His long-range effort looked to be heading for the bottom corner of the net until the keeper got down to save the danger.
The Clarets went into the dressing room 1-0 up at half-time and looked to be in complete control. It was no surprise therefore that Howe made no changes for the start of the second half.
Leeds looked much brighter though in the second half and were unlucky not to get a penalty after Lee Grant dashing back to block an attempt from McCormack looked to handle the ball outside the area. McCormack came close again after thumping the ball through the Burnley wall from a free kick. Grant was there again though to block the ball and pull off a great save.
Twelve minutes into the second-half, Burnley desperate to increase their lead and relieve the pressure came close from a Treacy free-kick. The ball whizzed past the Leeds wall and looked to be on target forcing McCarthy into yet another save to deny the Irish wingman.
Grayson, clearly frustrated by Leeds lack of impact made a double substitution just before the hour mark bringing on Becchio and Nunez in place of Keogh and McCormack
Our best chance to double our lead came moments after the Leeds substitutions and once again it was Treacy who nearly took the spoils. This time he unleashed a powerful shot with his right foot but the ball hit the woodwork after making contact with the top of the bar and post. That would almost certainly have sealed victory but that let off seemed to spur Leeds into action and they hit back with a vengeance.
Leeds were suddenly on equal terms with thirteen minutes still to play. The defence had hardly been troubled during the second half and in what seemed Leeds first attack of the half were suddenly left wanting after Snodgrass got in them to latch onto a deep cross from Sam and poke the ball home past Grant.
Every Clarets fan now feared the worst but the Clarets still had some fight left in them. Vokes flicked on the ball to Rodriguez but he could only lift the ball over the top of the bar. Leeds sensed this was going to be their lucky day and with their fans taking over the whole of the Cricket Field stand their deafening roars cheered on their team. Why we give the away following such an advantage is beyond me. I guess we will have to get promoted to the Premier League again before common sense prevails and we can get some of our own fans in that end of the ground. We could have a long wait with the team now 4th from bottom in the Championship. Now of course, it`s all about money not giving our team as much advantage of winning as possible.
Anyway with just one minute of normal time remaining the inevitable happened when Snodgrass sneaked in for his brace. Once again you could question our defence who failed to clear the danger from a corner allowing Snodgrass to angle his shot home and give Leeds yet another win against the Clarets, their seventh win in the last eight meetings between the sides.
These are desperate times for the Clarets and we now have to hope that somehow we can get back on track and start to move away from the drop zone which is getting ever closer. Confidence and consistency are still clearly lacking and with festive seasons traditionally being a bad time for the Clarets you tend to fear the worst. This club rapidly needs a boost and we need some positive, good news that will cheer us all up. We are just not getting any at the moment on or off the pitch.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Easton, McCann, Stanislas (Hines 65), Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez, Austin (Vokes 29)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Amougou, Marney
Goal: Rodriguez 10
Booked: Yellow card for Trippier
Leeds: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, White, O`Dea (Lees 82), Sam, Howson, Clayton, Snodgrass, Keogh (Becchio 59), McCormack (Nunez 59)
Subs Not Used: Cairns, Brown
Goals: Snodgrass 76, 89
Booked: Yellow card for O'Dea
Possession: 46% Burnley, 53% Leeds (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)