Date:Sunday January 15 2012
The Riverside Stadium
Saturday 14th January 2012 @3pm Kick-Off
Attendance: 17,001 (1213 Clarets!)
Back in September, Middlesbrough came to Turf Moor and put on a spectacle that the Clarets simply could not cope with. They were outplayed and outclassed going down 2-0 in the end with many fans then putting bets on Tony Mowbray`s side winning one of the automatic places for promotion. They were one of the most impressive teams seen at Turf Moor in sometime and nobody since has really bettered that performance against the Clarets at home.
In the return fixture at the Riverside yesterday, with Boro still riding high in fourth place not many fans fancied our chances. You simply needed to look at the statistical facts yesterday ahead of this game to understand the mountain we faced. Middlesbrough had lost just one game at home all season and that was against high-flying West Ham! Indeed they had only lost two games at home in the last 28 matches. Not only that of course, but our record playing Boro away from home, was to say the least pretty unimpressive. The Clarets had won just two games away to Middlesbrough since 1953. We had not beaten Middlesbrough on their home soil since September 1982 when we thumped them 4-1 at Ayresome Park in a Division 2 clash. True, we had not played them many times since, only twice in fact but we lost them both, most recently last season at the Riverside going down 2-1. You can also add the fact that we also lost a FA Cup game at the Riverside when we went down 3-2 to Darlington in November 1998. Could we now win at the Riverside at our third attempt? It would certainly be a big ask.
Things looked rather ominous then as the Clarets marched out onto the pitch in their all yellow chrome kit. The good news though was that Tony Mowbray had just beaten Eddie Howe to the npower Manager of the Month Award for December so perhaps now we could expect some sort of poisoned chalice effect to kick-in! Whether it did or not, we can`t say but what we can say is that Burnley turned the tables on Boro and put in probably their best performance of the season. They were simply stunning at times, especially in the first half and thoroughly deserved to go into the break two goals up. Boro fell to our corner routine in the 6th minute, when Edgar dummied a corner from Wallace allowing Rodriguez to thump the ball home. Trippier then let rip with a 35 yard screamer that flew in to make it 2-0 with only 28 minutes played.
Burnley fans were perhaps surprised to find that former Clarets keeper Danny Coyne was nowhere to be seen. Their number one keeper Jason Steele limped off with a thigh strain in Boro`s FA Cup game at home to Shrewsbury last Saturday with Coyne taking over. It looks like both keepers may have been injured ahead of this game with Mowbray instead selecting the inexperienced 18 year old, Connor Ripley with no substitute keeper named on the bench. Ripley had made his debut previously but this was his first Championship game and it showed. It was quite clear that Burnley`s tactics should be to test the rookie keeper whenever they could. They certainly did that! Ripley`s first touch was picking the ball out of the net! He was clearly suffering from a lack of confidence as the game progressed and their back-four sensed that. Ripley, the son of former Boro and Blackburn Rovers winger Stuart, should also have done better with Burnley`s second goal but he somehow let the ball fly underneath him into the back of the net.
Clarets fans can never relax though even at 2-0 up and there was still a long way to go in this game. Burnley have conceded nine times in the last ten minutes this season and this game was only 30 minutes old. Surely Boro would now throw everything at us in an effort to get a goal back? Well it was now an open game but really Middlesbrough had few real chances and Burnley always looked dangerous on the break.
Burnley cooled off a bit in the second-half and although there were a few scares we held on for a memorable victory and yet another clean sheet. The only misery for the Clarets was the later news that we had lost both Stanislas and Paterson to injury with both now facing a six week lay-off after pulling a hamstring and being substituted in the second-half.
The result though cheered everybody up and none more so than Eddie Howe, who on Monday will be celebrating twelve months at the helm. The victory sees the Clarets in 10th spot still just three points off the play-offs. It would have been just one point but Reading beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road in the late afternoon game to go above us.
It will certainly now be a big six-pointer in our home game next Saturday against Derby. The Rams are in 8th spot with just one point more than the Clarets. Another win by Burnley though could see us in the play-offs positions and that would lift all our spirits even more. Bring it on!
Eddie Howe made three changes to the starting eleven selected for the FA Cup game against Norwich City at Carrow Road last week.
As expected, Kieran Trippier returned to his right-back position after a one match suspension and Michael Duff also returned after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. He lined up in the centre of defence with David Edgar who signed a contract extension to 2014 in midweek. Sadly for Brian Easton, this meant he was dropped back to the bench in order to accommodate Ben Mee at left-back.
One other change saw Junior Stanislas return to the starting eleven with Charlie Austin named on the bench. Sam Vokes, who completes his loan over the weekend and who will return to Molineux on Monday unless Howe can extend the deal, was perhaps surprisingly also named on the bench. There was also a welcome return for Brian Jensen, who has now fully recovered from the groin strain he picked up in the game away to Posh back in September.
In summary then we lined up as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Duff, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Paterson
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Austin, Vokes
Perhaps surprisingly for Howe, he decided to take the game to Middlesbrough in a more aggressive formation rather than the 4-5-1 of late away from home. It looked initially that we were going to play 4-4-2 but in the end it was really 4-4-1-1 with Jay Rod playing off Paterson just in front of him.
Full Match Report
On a bright day on Teeside, West Yorkshire referee, Robert Madley got the game underway in a half-empty stadium! The Burnley end though helped contribute to the atmosphere with about 1200 fans having turned up. In a stadium, built for the Premier league that holds 35,000 though a gate of 17,001 is bound to look a little lost and with all the empty red seats on show, you are reminded of the benefits of smaller stadiums such as Turf Moor.
Anyway back to the action! The Clarets were now playing their third consecutive away game and were hoping to break the sequence of defeats after cruelly losing 2-1 away to Leeds and then getting convincingly chucked out of the FA Cup away to Norwich last Saturday. Third time lucky? Well they were certainly going for it. The tactics were clear by both sides from the beginning. Boro like to defend deep and build patiently from the back, whilst the Clarets this time decided to opt for a more aggressive game plan taking the game to Middlesbrough in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
It was the Clarets though who came storming out looking the more determined to open the scoring. It only took them six minutes too to achieve it! The goal came from our well-worked corner routine; a routine that Boro simply fell for! Wallace took the corner; David Edgar dummied the ball setting up Rodriguez who let rip with a shot that flew into the bottom corner of the net to put the Clarets 1-0 up. Boro were now on the back foot and created few chances of their own. Dean Marney nearly doubled the lead but his volley flew wide. Long throw expert, Ben Mee then neatly set up Rodriguez but his shot flew just past the post with the Boro defence now at sixes-and-sevens. It was all Burnley at this stage and their positivity and confidence was at times breathtaking.
Boro though did gradually come more into the match and looked to take the initiative without really creating any meaningful chances. It was becoming a very open game, with Burnley looking impressive on the break and defending well at the other end. The 4-4-1-1 formation with Jay Rod just behind Pato was paying dividends with Boro not having the answers to handle the pair.
A much livelier looking Junior Stanislas was also looking impressive out on the wing and he got in a beauty of a low cross after bursting clear on a charge to find Paterson. Pato though at full stretch could only poke the ball just wide.
We did not have long to wait though for Burnley to sensationally double their lead just before the half-hour mark. Trippier let rip with a 35 yard screamer and his dipping drive just squeezed underneath the rookie keeper to put the Clarets 2-0 up with just 28 minutes on the clock.
The home crowd were now getting restless and were beginning to turn against their side. Perfect conditions for Burnley to take advantage and try and increase their lead even more.
The game got a little scrappier now though as the end of the first-half approached. Boro fans were rattled even more when their only real chance of the first 45 minutes came to nothing with three minutes of the half remaining. Scott McDonald looked certain to get one back for Boro after latching on to a cross from Hoyte. He badly miscued though in front of goal and Clarets fans could breathe a sigh of relief.
Both managers decided to make no changes for the start of the second-half and almost immediately from the re-start Burnley nearly made it 3-0! A long clearance by Grant had found Rodriguez to set up a half- chance just one minute into the second-half. He should probably have done better but screwed his shot wide of target. Former Clarets defender, Rhys Williams then came to Boro`s rescue clearing a direct Wallace corner off the line.
Tragedy struck for Junior Stanislas though on 55 minutes. He pulled up hobbling and had to be replaced by Bartley. Losing Stanislas also meant the shape of our team changed which was a pity because the 4-4-1-1 formation was proving to be highly successful. We now though had to move to the more defensive 4-5-1 formation with Pato alone up front and Jay Rod taking on the wider role.
We never really looked the same after this change. We were still solid but did not look as threatening with the game now becoming more even. Paterson was looking more isolated up front with Boro now also finding more impetus and attacking flair. There was always the danger now they could pull a goal back making it a sweaty last few minutes for Clarets fans and the team. Horrible thoughts of losing 2-0 leads away from home such as Norwich and Sheffield United last season came back to haunt Clarets fans as Boro began to look more of a threat but at least we still had a two goal cushion.
In the 57th minute, Mowbray decided to bring on his new striker from Coventry, Lukas Jutkiewicz. He had arrived only the day before on an 'emergency loan` so he could play in this game but it was always the intention to sign him on a permanent basis and that will now probably proceed in the near future. Jutkiewicz also nearly made an instant impact too after a blunder by Grant. A silly throw back from Trippier put his keeper under pressure. The keeper hurried a clearance with a very poor touch with the ball falling nicely to Jutkiewicz on the edge of the area with a clear sight on goal. Thankfully though he sliced the ball and his shot flew wide by some distance.
Grant though made amends with the clock ticking down after some late sustained pressure by Boro. He got in a great block to deny McMahon with a minute to go. The Clarets though remained in control even when four minutes of added time were announced.
On another sad note though, we had already lost Paterson in the 85th minute to injury. It looks like Pato will now face another few weeks on the sidelines after it was later reported that just like Stansislas, he had pulled his hamstring.
However Burnley held on for a famous victory, their seventh away win this season in the Championship to make it now seven wins in nine league games. If the truth be known we won this game in style and rarely looked threatened. Poisoned chalice for Mowbray or brilliant performance by the Clarets? I would like to think it was more the latter!
The Post-Match Eddie-torial
Burnley manager Eddie Howe said after the game:
'We played very well. We counter-attacked superbly in the first half and at times we cut them open.
'We could have had more goals if truth be told.
'We've won seven out of nine now. There's no reason if this squad can keep it up that we can't compete with the very best in this league.'
Middlesbrough: Ripley, Hoyte, Bennett, Bates, Williams, Arca (McMahon 68), Thomson, Smallwood (Jutkiewicz 57), Haroun, McDonald (Zemmama 75), Emnes
Subs Not Used: McManus, Zemmama, Martin
Booked: Yellow cards for Williams, Haroun
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Stanislas (Bartley 55), Rodriguez, Paterson (Austin 85)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Easton, Vokes
Goals: Rodriguez 6, Trippier 28
Booked: Yellow cards for Paterson, Marney
Possession: 50% Middlesbrough, 50% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)
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Date:Sunday January 15 2012
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