Lions Roar, Burnley Bore and Fans Snore!
Saturday 25th February @3pm Kick-Off
Burnley 1 Millwall 3? Is someone having a laugh? Well I for one was not laughing at Turf Moor on Saturday after that abject performance from the Clarets! It was utter rubbish, hence the article photograph!
If ever there was a result and performance that confirmed our chances of reaching a play-offs spot would now be pretty remote, this was it! Our recent performances suggest we are heading for our usual midtable mediocrity position come the end of the season. Mediocre? I would have taken that on Saturday. This wasn`t mediocre it was a shambles and to be honest a complete and utter disgrace!
Personally, I don`t think I have seen such a shocking performance from the Clarets all season and that is saying something! For the life of me I can`t understand why we looked so tired and clueless considering we hadn`t played since a week last Friday and Millwall had suffered a home defeat to Middlesbrough in midweek.
I still don`t know if Millwall looked good or we made them look good but they looked far more direct and impressive than our bunch of lacklustre buffoons. Any away team that earns 56% of the possession come the final whistle perhaps deserves to take all the spoils. Millwall did and took them as well!!
Burnley can consider themselves extremely lucky that other teams in the mix for promotion and a play-offs spot did not take full advantage with most also dropping points in the race to reach the Premier League.
Amazingly we remain in 11th spot on 47 points just six points behind the sixth placed club. That club is now Cardiff who are playing in the Carling Cup Final against Liverpool today (Sunday). Worryingly for the Clarets, because of that game at Wembley, the Bluebirds now also have a game in hand as do Birmingham in 5th place on 54 points. You just sense things are slipping away with both luck and form now deserting us in equal measures.
We simply have to get back on a mini-run starting with a win away to Watford at Vicarage Road next Saturday.
There was one surprise omission from the sixteen for this clash. Dean Marney was not present after it was revealed that during the night his wife gave birth to their first child! Boy would we miss Marney` presence too! Marvin Bartley replaced him in midfield. With Josh McQuoid ineligible to play against his parent club, the on loan striker-cum-winger was replaced in the starting eleven by Keith Treacy. The subs bench, which I think reflects the lack of depth in the squad, had three additional strikers and just the one defender with no recognised midfielder.
Our line-up was therefore as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Bartley, Treacy, Rodriguez, Austin
Substitutes: Jensen, Easton, Hines, Paterson, Ings
Full Match Report
The signs of things to come were evident after just three minutes into this match. A shot from Hamer Bouzza whizzed past Grant with the ball hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing down close to the line. The ball bounced up nicely for James Henry, but under pressure from Ben Mee, he somehow headed over the top.
Millwall were supposed to be a struggling team but there was no evidence on this showing and you would have found it hard to believe that the Lions had not won a league game since Boxing Day!
Kane should perhaps have done better after a break from the half-way line left him in acres of space with the defence non-existent. Somehow though Bartley managed to charge back to get a touch on the ball and Kane`s shot was deflected wide. It was Bartley again who then cleared the ball off the line following a Paul Robinson header from a corner.
You could sense Burnley were simply not at the races. They looked tired and clueless and it was no surprise when the Lions got their noses in front in the 15th minute. It was a terrible goal to give away and it simply highlighted the problems we were having in the back four. The Burnley defence were all at sixes and sevens and a mistake by Edgar looked certain to give Millwall the lead. Ben Mee tried to clear the danger but his touch only sent the ball into the path of Keogh and the striker found enough space to unleash a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.
Burnley had created few chances so far and our midfield probably missing the presence of Dean Marney, were being outmanoeuvred by a competent, impressive looking Lions team. Chris McCann was trying his best at times but seemed to have little support especially on the flanks with Keith Treacy in particular being almost invisible. McCann set-up both Jay Rodriguez and Kieran Trippier but both chances came to nothing. We perhaps looked to be slightly getting back in the game before the hammer blow of a second Millwall goal on the half-hour mark destroyed all realistic hope of a comeback. To give Millwall credit it was a belter of a goal too, one that could easily be a candidate for goal of the season!
Midfielder, Josh Wright had not scored in the handful of games he had played for the Lions but he will remember this one! A Ben Mee headed clearance fell nicely to him and he unleashed a first-time volley from 35 yards out. The ball flew sweetly into the back of the net to make it 2-0 to Millwall. It was nothing less than they deserved. At least this time we could not blame our woeful defence!
Things then got worse for the Clarets when McCann had to leave the pitch following an injury. It was now when we could see the downside of not having enough cover in the squad. There was no recognised midfielder on the sub`s bench so we had to apply the sticking plaster with the team already two goals down. Paterson, one of three recognised strikers on the bench, came on to replace the captain and we re-shuffled things around.
2-0 it remained at half-time with the Clarets having a mountain to climb to get back into this game. Eddie Howe went for broke from the start of the second half using up his remaining two substitutions. Both Ings and Easton came on to replace a very poor Keith Treacy and an ineffective Charlie Austin. With Ben Mee still occupying the left back position, Easton lined up more as a left-sided midfielder with Kieran Trippier on the other flank also now playing more as a wing back. In effect we now had a back THREE with Edgar, Duff and Mee shoring up the defence. It was a very strange formation and one that quite frankly paid no dividends.
I just find it very annoying that we did not bring in more players during the January window. It was precisely this sort of scenario you could see coming with no cover provided in certain key areas. You lose both Marney and McCann, who in the squad can you play as a central midfielder? God forbid too if we lose Trippier, we have no right back cover either. Rant over!
Back to the game then! The only way Burnley were going to get back in this match would be if they could score an early goal and reduce the arrears. Sadly, it never really looked like coming and the play continued to be slow and plodding from the Clarets. They seemed more content to keep passing the ball back rather than sense the urgency of the early goal requirement and move forward with purpose and intent.
You could count on one hand with fingers to spare the number of chances we had in the whole of this game and the second-half was no exception. Ross Wallace had a few half-hearted attempts, one in particular flying just wide. Danny Ings too saw a deflected shot fly away to safety but that was it really.
You just sensed Millwall were toying with us and they looked happy to soak up what little pressure we chucked at them. The Lions twenty minutes from time then brought the miserable afternoon to an end for Clarets fans scoring their third goal at Turf Moor for the second time in as many seasons!
A through-ball from Henry was picked up by Kane who had timed his run to perfection. Clearly onside he raced forward slotting the ball past Grant.
We lost 3-0 last season to the Lions at Turf Moor and it looked like it was going to be a repeat score line until Bartley was tripped in the area by Shane Lowry in injury time. Jay Rod put away the spot kick to give the Clarets some consolation but by then most Clarets fans had already left the ground in utter disgust! Shocking rubbish this performance and one that clearly shows Eddie Howe still has a lot to do to mould a team that truly is capable of promotion. It now looks almost certain that this season`s chances of promotion have evaporated but never say, never!
The Post-Match Eddie-torial
"From our point of view, and probably for the first time in a long, long time, we didn't perform," said Burnley boss Howe.
'That's probably as poor as I can remember. From the first whistle it was totally out of character for us.
'We didn't hit anywhere near the levels we'd expect or the levels we have consistently in the last few months.
'We looked open and ragged in the first half, even before they scored."
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann (Paterson - 39), Bartley, Treacy (Easton - 46), Rodriguez, Austin (Ings - 46)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Hines
Goal: Rodriguez (pen) 90
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Craig, Robinson, Lowry, Bouazza (Feeney - 82), Henry, Abdou, Wright (Barron - 74), Keogh, Kane (Henderson - 88)
Subs Not Used: Allsopp, N`Guessan
Goals: Keogh 15, Wright 30, Kane 70
Possession: 44% Burnley, 56% Millwall (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: David Phillips (West Sussex)