Burnley Stall as Birmingham Brum Brum!
Tuesday 3rd April 2012 @7:45pm Kick-Off
In a season of ups and downs for the Clarets, it was another down last night with Birmingham City picking up all three points at Turf Moor in a 3-1 victory to maintain their promotion push for the play-offs. In a lacklustre first half it was Brum who played by far the better football and they took the lead as early as the eleventh minute when Marlon King found the net with a goal from inside the penalty area. That was enough to give the Blues a half-time lead despite a slightly better performance from the Clarets in the last 20 minutes or so of the half.
A much brighter Burnley turned up for the start of the second half and began to create a number of chances. Following some sustained pressure, the Clarets finally got the equaliser they deserved when Danny Ings scored his second goal in a Burnley shirt in the 74th minute after heading in from close range.
The celebrations did not last long though and within a minute Birmingham had retaken the lead. How many times has that happened to us this season? This time it was Jordon Mutch who grabbed the goal from inside the area thumping the ball home into the top left corner of the goal.
The Clarets huffed and puffed but simply could not get the equaliser and it was game over in the 88th minute when Brum made it 3-1 after David Murphy scored from close range. So the misery at Turf Moor continues with no win now since the 2-0 victory over Barnsley back in February, five long home games ago! It has clearly been our home form this season which has let us down with last night`s defeat being the 7th at Turf Moor so far.
With only one solitary win (Portsmouth at Fratton Park last Saturday) home or away in nine games, the season is ending on a low note for the Clarets unless they can go on a run in their six remaining games. They remain in 16th spot, have lost their game in hand, and on 53 points are now ten points behind the sixth placed club, Brighton who we play next at Turf Moor on Good Friday! We seem firmly stuck in 16th spot at the moment and if we finish there it will indeed be a very disappointing season.
We can make our excuses for the poor result last night. The weather was very cold bordering on sleet & snow, but then it was the same for Birmingham. We also put out a weakened team with injuries to both left backs, Ben Mee and Daniel Lafferty. Ross Wallace therefore had to play out of position in the left back slot. Burnley also had two key strikers missing in Jay Rodriguez (groin) and Martin Paterson (hamstring). The bench was also comprised of three young guns but to be honest these are all lame excuses and a symptom of a squad that has simply not got enough quality or quantiry in it and that is due to underinvestment something which looks likely to get worse in 2012-13 with the parachute payments halved. The only good news on a bad night was that young 17 year old, Cameron Howieson came on from the bench to make his debut just one week after signing his first professional deal. Indeed the youth team potential is probably the only bright spot on the horizon at the moment. This season can`t come to an end quick enough for me now. I would like to think we can end on a high note but we won`t if we continue to play like we did last night.
Eddie Howe faced injury problems galore last night and had to get the sticking plaster out to name his sixteen.
Jay Rodriguez, currently out injured with a groin problem may well have played his last game for Burnley if somebody snaps him up in the summer. Eddie Howe has suggested recently this could be highly likely and even if he stays he certainly is a doubt for the rest of this season. Martin Paterson too is currently out injured yet again with yet another hamstring injury so last night Ings, McQuoid and Austin took up the striking role with Ings initially playing behind the front two. It was also revealed last night that Ings too was a doubt before this game following his late injury in the previous game away to Pompey. Initially it looked like he was limping against Brum but thankfully he seemed to run it off and of course got on the score sheet in the second half,
The bigger problem though for Howe in his team selection was at left back. Both Ben Mee and Daniel Lafferty failed late fitness tests and with Brian Easton not in contention, the Burnley gaffer decided to play Ross Wallace out of position in that role.
With a lot of our squad out on loan and with the injuries mounting, Howe also decided to name three young guns on the bench with Fletcher, Howieson, Hewitt duly taking up their places alongside Jensen and Stanislas.
In summary then, this is how we lined-up:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Bartley, McQuoid, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Stanislas, Fletcher, Howieson, Hewitt
We started this game with quite a narrow formation as you might have expected with one recognised winger playing at left back (Wallace) and another as a striker (McQuoid). In effect then the formation was 4-3-1-2. Things changed a bit in the second half and we reverted to more of a 4-4-2 formation.
Full Match Report
It was a very, very cold night in Burnley as Chris McCann led his team on the pitch. Clarets fans also gave a warm welcome to two former Clarets players with both Steven Caldwell and Wade Elliott making Birmingham`s starting eleven and lining up against a Clarets side looking for their first home win in five games.
South Yorkshire referee, Jock Waugh got the game underway as both sets of fans kept one eye on the weather with sleet and snow threatening to fall.
The Clarets were behind before they could even get in their stride after just 11 minutes. A throw-in from Murphy was flicked on by Zigic to find King. Spinning away and getting clear past Edgar, he tried to shoot past Grant from 12 yards. It looked like the keeper had saved it with his outstretched right hand but the ball cruelly bounced up, hit Grant on the back and went over the line to make it 1-0 Brum.
After that Burnley simply could not get in the game looking subdued, tired and lethargic. It wasn`t helped either when the sleet finally arrived in the 15th minute. Brum had clearly been the better team in the first 20 minutes with the Clarets giving the ball away far too often.
Burnley had virtually no attempt on goal until the half-hour mark. Wallace had tried a couple of attempts from set-pieces but it was from a corner by Trippier that gave the Clarets their best chance so far to equalise. As the ball came over, Edgar got up to head the ball but he couldn`t get it on target and the chance evaporated.
The first half came to an end with the Clarets still 1-0 down and Eddie Howe would once again have some thinking to do in the dressing room.
Howe did not make any changes at half-time which perhaps was not surprising considering his limited options on the bench. He did however make some subtle changes in tactics and formation. Chris McCann was now playing a wider role on the left with McQuoid on the opposite flank.
It was Birmingham though who had the chance to increase their lead three minutes into the second half. A pass from Chris Burke released Marlon King on a charge forward. In the clear, he pushed the ball a bit too wide and delaying his shot allowed Michael Duff to get in a block.
Ings then tested Myhill from long range but he managed to deal with it albeit unconvincingly.
Eddie Howe was forced into making his first change of the night in the 59th minute when Dean Marney took a bang on the head and had to go off and be treated for mild concussion. Junior Stanislas came on to replace him and all of a sudden Burnley seemed to perk up. The substitution also led to a change in formation to 4-4-2 with Ings and Austin now sharing the striking role up front. We were now clearly having a better second half despite still being sloppy at times.
Stanislas set up an attack after charging through the middle which Myhill out of his goal eventually cleared. The keeper was now out of position though and Austin sensing his chances let rip with a 45 yard screamer which looked to be heading into the back of the net until Curtis Davies charging back managed to clear.
20 minutes later, the Blues luck struck again with Burnley hitting the woodwork twice. The impressive Stanislas was again heavily involved. Pulling the ball back for Ings, the former Bournemouth striker should perhaps have done better he but could only lift his shot onto the bar. The ball fell nicely though for Austin whose header then hit the same bit of woodwork!
A few moments later though and the Burnley pressure was finally rewarded. A Stanislas cross was blocked but Wallace pounced to put over a perfect delivery and there was Danny Ings at the near post to head powerfully home from eight yards out.
Having done all the hard work to get back in the game, it was a disappointment all round to then go behind again just two minutes later. King once more found himself clear and this time pulled the ball back for Mulch to side-foot home into the top corner of the net. 2-1 Brum!
That was a bitter blow from which we never really recovered.
The only bright spot came in the 84th minute when Howe decided to give 17 years old, Cameron Howieson his debut after replacing McQuoid. It must have been a proud night for the lad!
It was game over for Burnley though in the 88th minute when Grant spilled a shot from a Mutch cross allowing Murphy to tap home and make the score 3-1 to Birmingham.
A chance to reduce the arrears in added time was the best Burnley could now hope for and it summed up our night when Ings skied the ball over the bar from close range in the dying seconds of the game. Not a good night in the end!
The Post-match Eddie-Torial
A frustrated Eddie Howe in his post-match interview following yet another home defeat said:
'The score line doesn't look good, but it was a very good second-half performance.
'I thought when we equalised we were going to go on and win the game. We've said that a few times this season.
'The momentum was all with us and we've conceded a really poor second goal.
'It's very tough when you work so hard to get back in a game and you conceded straight away.'
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Wallace, Marney (Stanislas 59), McCann, Bartley, McQuoid (Howieson 84), Ings, Austin
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Fletcher, Hewitt
Goals: Ings (74)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Duff (86), Wallace (89)
Birmingham: Myhill, Murphy, Caldwell, Davies, Ramage, Burke, N'Daw, King (Huseklepp 90), Mutch, Elliott, Zigic (Townsend 76)
Subs Not Used: Gomis, Redmond, Doyle.
Goals: King (11), Mutch (75), Murphy (88)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Zigic (26), Mutch (39)
Possession: 53% Burnley, 47% Birmingham (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Jock Waugh (South Yorkshire)