Back from the Dead and Howe!
Saturday 26th November 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
In an incredible game at the KC Stadium on Saturday, the Clarets, losing 2-0 and looking dead and buried with less than 15 minutes to play suddenly found their goal scoring touch to come back and beat Hull City 3-2. A brace from David Edgar in a four minute spell brought the scores level after two goals from Hull`s leading goal scorer, Matty Fryatt one in each half had put the Tigers seemingly in control. After losing the last two games on the spin against Leeds United and Birmingham thanks to last minute goals it was nice to turn the tables and get one of our own. Jay Rodriguez stunned the home crowd deep into added time to let rip with a low shot that flew into the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards out.
Before this game we had lost four matches on the bounce and were fourth from bottom in the league just two points off the relegation places.
The victory was a crucial one with third-from-bottom club, Bristol City also going on to beat league leaders, Southampton 2-0 at Ashton Gate yesterday. Had we lost at the KC Stadium, we would now be licking our wounds and feeling sorry for ourselves in the bottom three with the dreaded 'R` word on everybody`s lips. Burnley fans are now wondering if this could be a turning point for the Clarets this season and whether this result could be the lift we need to hit good form and start to climb the table away from the drop-zone.
The three points against Hull propelled the Clarets up five places and we are now 16th with 21 points from 18 games. It is a sobering thought though to realise we are still only two points away from the bottom three but that is the nature of this league. A couple of wins on the bounce can drastically propel you up the table and conversely a couple of successive defeats can bring you ever closer to the bottom dwellers. You could argue that all is not lost since we are also remarkably only six points off the play-offs positions. It depends on whether you are a 'glass half-full` or 'glass half-empty` fan as to how you interpret our situation.
If you advise caution and express concern you are accused of being negative, if you wear rose-tinted spectacles and believe in blind faith, you call yourself positive. The truth is probably somewhere in between. We simply do not know how our season will end; all we can do is look at the results and performances to date. If you take a balanced view based on that assessment, I think everybody would accept that if we can`t find the consistency we strive for then at best we are going to be nothing more than a mid-table side this season. Some would hail that as a success for a team in 'transition` but I am afraid that would be failure in my eyes. Why? Well I only have to think about our victory at Wembley in May 2009 with all the hopes and expectations fed by the Board statements at the time to form that opinion. I am afraid a return to mid-table mediocrity and pleading poverty, in effect a return to the Cotterill days is a poor outcome considering we recently tasted the high life in the Premier League. Most fans at the time after the promotion; I am sure agreed with Barry Kilby that the club would now be set up for ten years. Be honest, how many did not think we would now have a better future? True, we might not have expected to stay in the Premier League but perhaps now we could become a 'yo-yo` club and emulate the likes of West Brom buoyed up by all those parachute payments. At the very least we could expect to become a strong Championship club always there or thereabouts in with a chance of promotion. Things would surely also get better off the pitch, we would at long last buy back the Turf and the ground would then be upgraded to a modern state-of-the-art facility. The ramshackle shed that is the Cricket Field is still standing and rent is still going out in bucketfuls to the owners of the ground just three seasons later!
In effect fast forward 2.5 years from Wembley and nothing has changed. Indeed things are far worse with relegation to League 1 still a possibility. God forbid, through lack of ambition and financial balls, we finish up like Preston who are now struggling in League 1 with reports that owner Trevor Hemmings is ploughing £750,000 a month into the club just to keep it afloat. Hemmings has more money to chuck around than our lot too and they have more fans.
It is so, so important that we avoid that scenario and do everything we can, whenever we can to stay in the Championship and that is before we even start talking about possible promotion. We have another chance in January when the window opens to maximise our chances of staying up and even possibly still mount a push for the play-offs. Will the Board take it? Can we risk carrying on with the squad we have assuming we can keep them all? I think it is far too risky, the inconsistency could prove to be fatal for this club. Brendan Flood says he will provide Eddie with the funds in January so let`s hope he can release enough as well as hold on to our key players.
Yes, the victory yesterday could just be the tonic the club needs, I very much hope it is and we can start to climb up the table and for once avoid the traditional Christmas slump. We can`t do these things on a 'wing and a prayer` though and I would give anything to return to the hopes and aspirations that I had and suspect most of us had that day at Wembley back in 2009.
Eddie Howe made a few surprise changes for this game. Ben Mee was recalled to the starting eleven replacing Brian Easton at left back who was dropped to the bench after a shaky game in midweek away to Birmingham. Junior Stanislas celebrating his birthday also returned as part of a five man midfield with Jay Rodriguez our lone striker up front. Ross Wallace played in the hole behind Rodriguez with Marvin Bartley eventually playing a more defensive midfield role in front of the back four. Dean Marney did not make the sixteen, probably because he was still recovering from an injury that he picked up just after coming on from the bench against Brum in midweek. He carried on in that game and seemed to shake off the injury but perhaps Howe was not taking any chances against Hull.
In summary then our line-up was as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Stanislas, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez
Subs: Stewart, Amougou, Easton, Hines, Vokes
Full Match Report
There was a late change in the referee for this game with Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe) replacing the unwell, Mike Jones (Chester).
With the game underway, it was the Clarets who started the brighter and they were straight on the offensive with their 4:1:4:1 formation looking likely to pay dividends. Stanislas should have given the Clarets an early lead but after slipping in the box he then shot over the bar from just 16 yards out with only the keeper to beat. How we would rue that miss!
Burnley were looking solid and untroubled at this stage but after just 11 minutes of play they would now fall to a sucker punch in virtually Hull`s first attack of the game. Once again the goal came from a defensive error, with Kieran Trippier being the culprit this time. Trippier may have been conscious of the fact that he was on four yellow cards and didn`t want to pick up a fifth and earn a one match ban. Either way, he hesitated and let Cameron Stewart fly past him unchallenged. Stewart got over a low cross to find Matty Fryatt ideally placed and he tapped home the ball from inside the six yards box to make it 1-0 to the Tigers.
This was cruel justice, but again questions had to be asked about our defence. The Hull goal knocked the stuffing out of the Clarets and their heads began to drop. Our attacks were now few and far between. Our final ball was letting us down time and time again with Rodriguez now looking a forlorn figure on his own up front. The Tigers were in the ascendency and looked likely to increase their lead. Howe tried a number of different formations involving various midfield options to try and get back into this game but to no effect. We were simply incapable of putting the Hull defence under pressure with the wingers in particular failing to produce the goods. At times too the Clarets were crying out for another effective midfielder with Bartley now playing deep in the holding role in front of the back four.
We had one chance to equalise towards the end of the half after Stanislas was put clear but instead of unleashing a shot he tried instead to pass to Jay Rodriguez and the danger was snuffed out.
The Tigers nearly made it a nightmare for the Clarets with the last kick of the half. After Mee had been caught in possession, Robbie Brady pounced and danced his way into the box to unleash a shot. Grant though saved the day after diving low down to the right to deny the on-loan Manchester United winger.
Eddie Howe had clearly run out of fancy formation ideas after the first half failure and decided at the break to revert back to the more traditional 4-4-2 with Sam Vokes coming on to replace Junior Stanislas.
The change nearly worked too just five minutes into the second half and it came from a Ben Mee long throw. Jay Rodriguez on the turn latched onto the ball to volley on target only to see it hit the bar after the keeper managed to get a slight touch.
Clarets fans hearts sank in the 51st minute when Ross Wallace picked up a booking. That was his fifth yellow card of the season meaning he will now be suspended for the one game against Ipswich at Turf Moor next Tuesday night.
Hull were now soaking up all the pressure but in the 55th minute increased their lead after catching Burnley out on the break. The Clarets again lost possession allowing Koren to set up Fryatt. Fryatt`s angled shot though should have been no problem for Grant but he fluffed his attempt to save the danger after attempting a one-handed parry that simply helped the ball into the back of the net.
It looked like game over with Hull now dominating and they nearly made it 3-0 when another Koren pass gave Fryatt the chance to score a hat-trick. Thankfully though this time, he fluffed his shot when his weak attempt was easily saved by Grant.
The Clarets were now stretched in defence with the Tigers roaring and going in for the kill and there seemed no way back.
Vokes and Rodriguez though linked well to set up Wallace in the 65th minute but his curling shot flew inches wide of target.
Hull though still looked the most likely to score and they nearly increased their lead when Koren had another attempt well-saved by Grant who was now trying to make amends for his earlier blunder.
With 12 minutes to go and somewhat out-of-the-blue Burnley were given a lifeline when David Edgar reduced the arrears to make it 3-1. It came from a free-kick and this time the Hull defence had no answer to the danger. Wallace helped the ball on across the goal and there was Edgar to head home his first goal for the Clarets.
That was only the eighth goal, Hull had conceded at the KC Stadium all season and little did Clarets fans know that fifteen minutes later the goals against at home for the Tigers would have been increased by another two!
Buoyed up by the goal, the Clarets charged forward and it was now Hull City on the back-foot. The Tigers` feet must have been trembling in their boots when Burnley remarkably equalised four minutes later.
Have Burnley found some long-throw experts all of a sudden? Trippier this time found Vokes with a long-throw and the on-loan Wolves striker flicked on the ball into the path of Edgar. Controlling the ball well, the defender-cum-sudden striker unleashed a shot on the turn and the ball flew into the roof of the net to make it unbelievably 2-2! David Edgar a brace? Who could possibly have predicted that?
If Hull were startled by the first goal they were positively panic-stricken at 2-2 and boy did it show.
Burnley now looked a completely different team and you just sensed maybe the unthinkable was about to happen on this usually Happy Hunting Ground! Treacy thought he had got the winner in the 89th minute but his thunderous shot was tipped round the post when Gulacsi, somehow got his fingers to the ball.
There were now three-minutes of added time to play and with the clock ticking down; it looked like Burnley may have to settle for a point after all. In the final minute of added time though, one final onslaught by the Clarets brought home all three points after Rodriguez latched onto a ball over the top from McCann. Racing forward, he unleashed a superb low shot that flew into the bottom corner of the net.
Most Clarets fans were now speechless but what a comeback. This was indeed a happy hunting ground and the Hull fans must be sick and tired of our lot coming to the KC Stadium. We have now beaten Hull on five successive occasions three of them at the KC Stadium but never has a win been so important as the one yesterday. The margins are so close in the Championship and had we not come back from the dead yesterday, we would now be in the bottom three! It certainly is 'a funny old game`
Hull: Gulacsi, Rosenior, Chester, Hobbs, Dudgeon, McKenna, Stewart (Dawson 77), Evans, Koren, Fryatt, Brady (Adebola 86)
Subs Not Used: Basso, McShane, Cairney
Goals: Fryatt 11, 55
Booked: Yellow cards for McKenna and Evans
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, McCann, Wallace (Amougou 90+6), Stanislas (Vokes 46), Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Hines
Goals: Edgar 78, 82, Rodriguez 90+3
Booked: Yellow card for Wallace
Possession: 52% Hull City, 48% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)