Clarets Can Have No Complaints About FA Cup Exit
Saturday 7th January 2012 @3pm Kick-Off
The Clarets are out of the FA Cup at the third round stage for the first time since 2008 after going down 4-1 to Premier League club, Norwich City at Carrow Road. If the truth be known, we were outclassed and were never really at the races. The quality in the Canaries side shone brightly especially in the second half with the Clarets makeshift defence buckling under the pressure. This was despite a promising first half when the Clarets pulled a goal back in the 15th minute after conceding two goals in the first twelve minutes. The Jay Rodriguez goal was never going to be enough though unless we could get the next goal. The fourth goal was always going to be crucial and sadly for the Clarets, Norwich would score that goal on the hour mark
That fourth goal of the game scored by Surman was always going to put the Clarets under pressure and substitute, Steve Morison made it game over in the 73rd minute after scoring Norwich`s fourth. We can have no complaints really and at least now we can concentrate on the Championship and try and get promotion.
Norwich manager, Paul Lambert had already indicated ahead of the game that he would rest some players and rotate his squad. In the end, he made five changes to the side that beat QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road in their last game in the Premier League. It was however still a strong side with captain and joint leading goalscorer, Grant Holt named in the starting eleven. They did however name a second-string goalkeeper and dropped their other joint leading goal-scorer, Steve Morrison to the bench. They lined up against us in the 4-4-2 formation.
Eddie Howe`s tactics in the end left a lot to be desired. Three strikers upfront and no recognised wingers (with Wallace playing a more central midfield role) caused all sorts of problems for the defence. The full backs had simply no support down the flanks from any recognised wingers and Norwich sensed blood. They punished us big time with Edgar in particular, playing out of position at right back suffering most of the afternoon after being put under considerable pressure.
Although Burnley got off to a lively start they fell to a sucker punch from a corner and thanks to some poor marking allowed Grant Holt to put the Canaries 1-0 up with barely five minutes on the clock. It looked like we were going to have a torrid time when Jackson made it 2-0 in the 12th minute but three minutes later we were back in the game thanks to Jay Rodriguez scoring with a header.
The rest of the first half was pretty open with end-to-end play. It was certainly a good advertisement for the game and although our defence was never really on top we did not concede any more goals although it needed a missed penalty from Grant Holt to keep the score reasonable.
The second half was a different kettle of fish with Norwich now dominating possession and looking the most likely to kill the game off. We created very little in the second half and it is difficult to recall any chances for the Clarets. Norwich were by far the stronger team now and they were showing their Premier League clash. Two further goals for the Canaries ensured our cup exit and only Norwich`s second win in the FA Cup competition in 9 games.
This was the first time since 2008 we had gone out of the FA Cup at this stage and you may recall last time it was Premier league Arsenal that knocked us out after beating us 2-0 at home with Kyle Lafferty also controversially being sent off. At least it was another top flight club that did the damage this time rather than one of the minnows but considering where these two clubs were a few seasons back with Norwich heading for League 1 and Burnley gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time in 33 years, it is perhaps disappointing to see that the tables have now been turned.
Oh well our second defeat in a row and now we have to bounce back with only Championship promotion to concentrate on starting with a tricky away visit to high-flying Middlesbrough next Saturday.
Eddie Howe opted for some unexpected tactics in this game choosing three strikers up front in a basic 4-2-1-3 formation with Dean Marney in the holding midfield role, McCann playing deep and Martin Paterson up front with Rodriguez and Austin on either side of him.
It would appear the dilemma faced by Howe in deciding which of our three main strikers would start was resolved by playing all three although the balance with Paterson up front and Austin not playing in the centre of attack looked wrong.
Ross Wallace played in the hole behind the front three. Paterson was one of two changes made to the starting eleven following the Leeds defeat on Bank Holiday Monday with Amougou also making a start in the centre of defence and Stanislas dropped to the bench. Kieran Trippier of course missed his first game for the Clarets this season after being suspended following his red card for two bookable offences in the game at Elland Road and the defensive headaches continued for Howe, with Duff still not fit to play due to a hamstring injury.
Howe therefore had no option but to put out a makeshift defence and start David Edgar at right back with a centre back pairing of Mee and Amougou plus Easton at left back. This was the same back four that featured against Leeds after Trippier`s red card.
The FA Cup competition allows seven substitutes and with defender, Kevin Long, who had just returned from his Accrington Stanley loan not selected there was no defensive cover either on the bench. Young 18 year old striker, Joe Jackson though did make his first appearance on the bench and was given Shirt Number 34. The young gun, born in Barrow signed a 12 month professional contract in June 2011.
One striker who did not feature in the eighteen was Sam Vokes. Mick McCarthy had refused to give the club permission to play the on-loan Wolves striker in the FA Cup fearful that he would then be cup-tied. Howe therefore had to make do with SIX recognised strikers in his eighteen!
In summary we lined up as follows:
Grant, Edgar, Mee, Amougou, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Paterson, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Stewart, Bartley, Stanislas, Treacy, MacDonald, Hines, Jackson
Full Match Report
It was the Clarets who got off to the more lively start with both Austin and Rodriguez testing the Norwich keeper, Declan Rudd with two attempts early on. Burnley though were soon 1-0 behind. Wes Hoolahan picked up the ball from a short corner putting over a cross to the far post. Grant Holt made no mistake, heading the ball past Grant in the fifth minute. Six minutes later we went further behind after Simeon Jackson got up to nod home an Adam Drury cross. It looked like it was going to be one of those days for the Clarets but just as Burnley fans feared the worst, we suddenly got a goal back in the 15th minute.
Ross Wallace took a free kick and found Jay Rodriguez 16 yards out from goal. Rodriguez still had a lot to do but did it brilliantly getting enough power and direction on his header to beat the Canaries keeper just inside the left-hand post. So it was now 2-1 with all three goals scored in the space of the opening fifteen minutes. It was game on again now with all to play for still.
The match was now being played at a blistering pace with both teams looking for that all important fourth goal. It was an open game played end-to-end and an exciting spectacle for the neutral. Just past the half-hour mark though, it looked like it was game over for the Clarets after Norwich were awarded a soft penalty for a handball by Austin in the area. Austin was simply too close to Andrew Croft`s shot and it looked harsh to penalise him for being unable to get his arms out of the way in time. Justice though prevailed when Norwich skipper Grant Holt, failed to get his brace after meekly putting the ball wide of target from the spot kick.
Austin then nearly turned the tables at the other end after getting on the end of a David Edgar cross. His shot though was well-blocked by Daniel Ayala.
Chester referee, Michael Jones brought the eventful first half to a close without any further goals with Burnley having held their own despite going in 2-1 behind.
Eddie Howe made no changes for the start of the second half. Norwich came out with all guns blazing immediately putting the Clarets under pressure with all the action now in our half. The Canaries almost regained their two goal advantage in the eighth minute. A shot by Hoolahan was well-saved by Grant but the ball fell to Holt. His shot hit the post and rebounded to Simeon Jackson inside the six yard box. Thankfully he too missed after putting his shot wide.
Burnley were now looking out of it and could not regain the composure they had in the first half. Austin seemed a little lost on the left hand side of attack and could probably have done better in his more familiar central poaching role. The midfield was being overworked and the full backs exposed with no wing men to help out and protect the flanks. The game was crying out for a change in tactics with a 4-4-2 formation looking the best option. Wallace was having little impact in the centre of midfield and David Edgar continued to look like a fish out of water.
Fifty minutes into the game a freak accident led to Howe being forced into his first change and one probably he should have been thinking about making anyway. Ben Mee had accidently collided with Wallace, and the Scot came off worse picking up an injury that would see him replaced by Bartley.
The onslaught though by the Canaries continued and it was no surprise when they finally made the pressure count on the hour mark. Typically though, it was our defence that let us down and particularly this time you have to blame Andre Amougou. Drury and Jackson combined well exposing the weakness in our defence. A mistake by Amougou allowed Surman to run onto the ball and clip the ball over Grant into the back of the net. There was no way back now for the Clarets and it showed. We were now really under the cosh and had few options on the bench to try and relieve the pressure.
Burnley had few chances in the second half with Norwich now completely dominating the game although Austin just failed to get a decent touch on a telling cross by Edgar. The Canaries though were playing with confidence and it was only a matter of time before they increased their lead further.
Stanislas had come on to replace Austin in the 71st minute but two minutes later it was 4-1 to Norwich. The Canaries had also made a change in the 71st minute with a double substitution. Wilbraham had replaced one of their joint leading goal-scorers, Grant Holt and their other, Steve Morison came on to replace Jackson. The two substitutes had an immediate impact. Wilbraham`s first touch was a shot on target that Grant saved at full strength but there was Morison to pick up the loose ball and tap home.
For the Clarets it was now just a matter of seeing the game out and not conceding any more goals. Desperation set in though when Howe tried to tighten up the defence by bringing off the woeful Amougou. It just shows how few options we have in the back four when a couple of defenders are out through injury and/or suspension but to bring on young striker, Alex MacDonald and throw him into the right back slot seemed bizarre. The change in the 75th minute at least allowed David Edgar to move back into the centre of defence and give him some respite from the pounding he had received in the right back position but would young Alex do any better? Strangely, he survived and we did not concede any more goals, although to be honest Norwich had by then taken their foot off the accelerator.
We were simply outclassed in this one and the sooner we can put this defeat behind us and move on the better. I said before this game, I would not lose any sleep if we got knocked out although I would have liked the game to be closer. The fact that we played very much like we did during our Premier League season away from home suggests we are still some way from a team that could hold its own in the top flight. Norwich, so far seem to have found that magical formula and it is somewhat annoying that couldn`t have been us back in 2009-10.
The Post-Match Eddie-torial
Burnley manager Eddie Howe said after the game
'Norwich have definitely improved and got some good players with consistent results. As such, they are hard to beat.
'We were not at full strength today and, when you come to a Premier League ground, you need to have your best team with you to have any chance.
"It was a difficult afternoon for us. Norwich are a very good side, but for over an hour we were well in the game at 2-1.
'I think you could see we were a little disjointed today. We missed Kieran Trippier badly, which we probably thought we might. That's no disrespect to anyone who came in, but we didn't really have any width in our play and we didn't look great defensively today.
'We looked shaky against a good side with good attacking options. We didn't deal with that particularly well, but it's a good test against a Premier League club.
'They gave us respect by not making too many changes and in the second half we never really got going and it ended up a poor end to the game as we were seeing out time waiting for the whistle.'
'We'll take the positives. There were some good individual performances and Ben Mee was excellent and the front three all put a shift in, especially being without the ball for long periods, but we have to look at Norwich as a role model and a club we want to emulate.
'The success they have had, full credit to their manager and players and theirs is a path we have to try to emulate. Their team spirit really stands out as well, so there is a lot of things for us to look at as a route we want to take.
'We will learn from it and hopefully have a good second half to the season.'
'It's disappointing being out of the cup, but we have to view this game as a one off and it's important we look at the bigger picture. It doesn't affect our league form and we knew this was going to be a tough spell with three away games and now we look to Middlesbrough and hopefully having a few lads back.'
Norwich: Rudd, R Martin, Drury, Whitbread, Ayala, Crofts, Surman, Hoolahan (Bennett 77), Fox, Holt (Wilbraham 71), Jackson (Morison 71)
Subs Not Used: Steer, Barnett, Johnson, Lappin,
Goals: Holt 6, Jackson 12, Surman 60, Morison 73
Booked: Yellow cards for Whitbread and Ayala
Burnley: Grant, Edgar, Amougou (MacDonald 75), Mee, Easton, Wallace (Bartley 53), McCann, Marney, Rodriguez, Paterson, Austin (Stanislas 71)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Treacy, Hines, Jackson
Goals: Rodriguez 15
Possession: 49% Norwich City, 51% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Michael Jones (Chester)
This was basically a makeshift defence and it showed. David Edgar was exposed and punished down the flank, time and time again. Norwich had done their homework and realised he was no right back. Easton was no better at left back although at least he had the easier ride and was under less pressure with the Canaries concentrating on the weakness down the opposite flank. Amougou had a shocker in what could be his last game for the Clarets and only Ben Mee had a reasonable game in the back-four. Basically, with Duff still sidelined with a hamstring injury and Trippier sitting out a one match suspension. Howe had few options in defence and it showed in the second-half, when Alex MacDonald must have wondered what hit him after being brought on to replace a woeful Amougou. The young striker spent the game trying to come to terms with being a right back, allowing the under-pressure, Edgar to at least finish the game in his more comfortable centre back position.
It was a sad defensive performance all round with Lee Grant also making costly errors and you would certainly not look at the back four for your Star Player.
What about our attack? Well Paterson ran and ran in his usual style but somehow never really got any clear cut chances whilst Charlie Austin seemed to struggle in the wider role casting doubt on Eddie Howe`s tactics. Jay Rodriguez, despite playing deeper at times was probably our best attacker and he would have come close to picking up our Star Player award had it not been for another player who just shaded it.
You couldn`t really have asked for anything more from Dean Marney, who must quite simply be our most improved player over the last month or so. He 'bossed` the midfield and as anchor man tried his best to help out our woeful defence. Dean therefore gets our award!