Date:Sunday December 4 2011
Saturday 3rd December 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
West Ham may be forever blowing bubbles but yesterday at the Boleyn Ground, Burnley made sure they burst them all after coming away with a sensational 2-1 win against the second place club.
Burnley to be honest were outplayed in the first-half and defended deep with Dean Marney trying to contain Irons skipper, Mark Noble in a five-man midfield. Psychologically though we won the battle and continued to frustrate the Hammers. We were caught out though just seven minutes into the second half when Nolan got in behind the Burnley defence to lift the ball over Grant from 20 yards out. Clarets fans now feared the worst conscious of the last two visits when we leaked five goals each time.
We need not have worried, Burnley responded magnificently and within five minutes had equalised after McCann headed home from close range in the 57th minute. The game now opened up and West Ham looked less confident now. In the 75th minute, Clarets fans went wild when we took the lead from a Wallace corner with Sam Vokes heading home a powerful header but the question now was could we hold on? We rode our luck at times, but West Ham seemed less threatening than the first 50 minutes or so and in the end we were worthy winners.
The extent of this win can`t be underestimated. It was the first time Burnley had won on this bogey ground since October 1973. Before this game West Ham were top of the Championship form table and looking for their fifth successive win having also been unbeaten in seven games. The defeat against Burnley prevented the East End club being top of the Championship this morning with league leaders Southampton surprisingly also losing yesterday after going down 1-0 away to bottom club, Doncaster Rovers.
Enough about West Ham though, let`s talk about what this amazing win at the Boleyn Ground means for the Clarets. Burnley have now won three consecutive games over seven days. Just one week ago, they were 2-0 down away to Hull City knowing that with third-from-bottom club, Bristol City beating Southampton at Ashton Gate they would probably be in the bottom three if they couldn`t score three goals in the last 15 minutes of the game!
Remarkably they came back from the dead to beat the Tigers 3-2 and then thumped a poor Ipswich side 4-0 at Turf Moor on Tuesday night. Clarets fans were hopeful of continuing the good run against high-flying West Ham but how many seriously believed we stood a chance of winning? Well for those who had the blind faith and optimism, we salute you! This truly is a strange division with the notion that anybody can beat anybody else in the Championship being proven time-and-time again. You only have to look at the recent results involving Bristol City, Doncaster Rovers and yes, Burnley to prove that! Our victory against the Hammers lifted the Clarets five places to 10th position and we are now a comfortable seven points off the drop zone. The play-offs too are now back on the agenda with the Clarets being just five points behind 6th placed club, Brighton. That would have been just three points had the Seagulls not managed to get a later winner in added time yesterday to beat Forest 1-0 at the Amex Stadium.
This truly is a crazy league at times with just ten points separating 7th placed club, Blackpool and third-from-bottom club, Nottingham Forest. As we know to our cost, lose two or more games on the trot and you are back down in the mire but win two or more and you are back fighting for promotion! The Clarets now simply have to keep the momentum going starting with a home win in our next match against struggling and financially-stricken, administration-threatened Portsmouth.
Eddie Howe decided to dispense yet again with the 4-4-2 formation, electing to go with a more defensive five-man midfield with Rodriguez alone up front. There was a more defensive midfield role too for Dean Marney with Ross Wallace having to be content with a place on the bench along with on loan Wolves striker, Sam Vokes. Marney was making his first start since September.
Marvin Bartley was also deemed fit enough to play after recovering from a tight calf. He had to be substituted in the previous game against Ipswich. Former West Ham winger, Junior Stanislas and Keith Treacy (another player sold by Sam Allardyce whilst at Blackburn) lined up on the flanks hoping to both prove a point against one of their former managers! There would be no chance though for former West Ham striker, Zavon Hines to also give Big Sam a bloody nose. He was named on the bench and in the end was an unused sub.
In summary then our sixteen was as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Stanislas, McCann, Bartley, Marney, Treacy, Rodriguez
Subs: Stewart, Easton, Wallace, Vokes, Hines
Full Match Report
Essex referee, Fred Graham got the game underway, his first involving the Clarets and as expected it was West Ham who came charging out of the blocks first putting Burnley under some early pressure. The Clarets defence though soaked up the danger and Grant had very little to do in these opening exchanges. A Faubert cross found the head of Marty Taylor but the ball dropped wide of target after Trippier had exerted enough pressure on the Hammers winger to put him off.
West Ham however nearly took the lead a minute later on the half-hour mark after Marney slipped allowing Cole to pounce and cross the ball over into the danger area. Nolan at full stretch from less than six yards out though could only direct the ball wide.
The Clarets at this stage could simply not put the West Ham defence under any pressure with Jay Rodriguez looking a forlorn figure alone up front. Hammers keeper, Rob Green seemed to be having an easy afternoon watching the game develop in front of him although he woke up a bit when Treacy attempted a long-range effort. The ball though hit the side netting.
Despite West Ham having the lion`s share of possession and looking the more threatening in the end the Clarets managed to frustrate the Hammers and went into break with the score still at 0-0.
Eddie Howe made no changes for the start of the second half and we kept the same formation hoping to continue frustrating the Hammers and sneak a goal on the break.
The game plan though fell apart in the 52nd minute when the Hammers pressure finally brought some reward and they took the lead. It all seemed to happen out of the blue too, Cole managed to flick on the ball to Nolan who had managed to get in behind the Clarets defence. From 20 yards out, the West Ham skipper lifted the ball over Grant to put the Hammers 1-0 up.
West Ham supporters though were not celebrating long before they were stunned into silence just five minutes later. Eddie Howe after the opening West Ham goal looked set to make a change with Sam Vokes and Ross Wallace looking ready to come on but before he had time to do so, McCann had equalised for the Clarets! Junior Stanislas, who had been pretty quiet up to now, was the architect of the goal which will have been pleasing for him against his old club. He picked up the ball from a throw-in to cross over and find McCann ideally placed to jump up, head home and send the Clarets fans wild.
The Hammers not surprisingly now tried to come charging back at us desperate to get their noses in front again. Trippier got in a superb block to deny Piquionne. Piquionne had come on to replace Taylor just before our equaliser and with his first touch could have put West Ham back in front with a volley until Trippier intervened to block his attempt. West Ham were then unlucky to hit the woodwork following a shot by Collison. Marney though managed to make contact and deflect the ball against the foot of the post.
The Clarets though still had their moments at the other end with the Hammers now seemingly looking less confident, having been rattled by our equaliser.
Wallace, who had replaced Treacy just after our goal, latched on to a clearance by Green unleashing a first-time volley just wide of target.
Not only were we holding on and soaking up the West Ham pressure, we now looked confident enough to take the lead at the other end. Our chances improved even more in the 69th minute when Sam Vokes came on to replace Junior Stanislas and Howe decided to play the more attacking 4-4-2 formation.
Green scrambled away a screamer from Rodriguez who had unleashed a shot from fully 40 yards out. The Hammers keeper had managed to get a palm to the ball and tip it over the bar but from the resulting corner we would take the lead and really pile on the pressure for the home side.
It was a double whammy from our substitutes on the pitch that gave West Ham the grief. Wallace took the corner and there was Vokes to bullet home his header and put the Clarets in front for the first time. Now it really was game on with both sides still having all to play for in the fifteen minutes remaining. Could the Clarets hold on or would they, like so many times this season, concede late on and drop points? The tension amongst Clarets fans was palpable as the clock ticked down ever so slowly!
Sam Allardyce had one last throw of the dice to try and strengthen his attack after bringing on John Carew to add some power and height to his strike force. He replaced O`Brien with ten minutes still to play and the tactic nearly paid off. West Ham pressed forward and looked the most likely to score in these last few minutes. The woodwork came to our rescue again with seven minutes to go much to the relief of a very nervous set of Clarets fans. Cole on the edge of the penalty area unleashed a shot that hit the outside of the post.
The game seemed to go on forever now for Clarets fans and it was not helped when the fourth official announced four minutes of added time. Thankfully though we held on to get the miracle we were seeking ensuring a victory against the Hammers on their home soil at the 22nd attempt and the first since 1973! Where do we go from here? We have to hope we continue with our current form and remain consistent. The dangers of going on a losing streak again are all too clear to see in this remarkable division. We certainly know now though how things can be turned on its head in the space of just seven days. Let`s just bask in the glory for the moment and hope we can soon be talking about our promotion hopes rather than relegation fears. Bring on Portsmouth next Saturday and let`s continue to advance up the table and for once have a great festive season!
West Ham: Green, McCartney, Tomkins, Faye, O'Brien (Carew 80), Faubert, Nolan, Collison, Taylor (Piquionne 56), Noble, Cole
Subs Not Used: Stech, Demel, Diop
Goal: Nolan 52
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Stanislas (Vokes 69), McCann, Marney, Bartley, Treacy (Wallace 58), Rodriguez
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Easton, Hines
Goals: McCann 57, Vokes 75
Booked: Yellow cards for McCann, Duff and Vokes
Possession: 58% West Ham, 42% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Fred Graham (Essex)
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Date:Sunday December 4 2011
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