Burnley Take All the Good Friday Spoils!
Good Friday, 6th April 2012 @3pm Kick-Off
It was Happy Easter for the Clarets after beating play-offs chasing Brighton 1-0 at Turf Moor on Good Friday. The Clarets took all the spoils all right but it was Brighton who spoilt the game. Gus Poyet and his men should be ashamed of their performance and so should the referee. We saw the nasty side of the Seagulls in the reverse fixture at the Amex Stadium back in December. That day they were reduced to nine men after two players were sent off and we also saw Poyet chuck his toys out the pram and storm down the tunnel in a hissy fit! It did them no good with the Clarets returning with three points after a 1-0 victory. Little did we know they were not prepared to bury the hatchet in the game at Turf Moor.
After the Clarets took the lead thanks to a Charlie Austin goal in the 23rd minute, Brighton seemed to implode and lose the plot with some disgraceful fouls both on and off the ball. Once again they showed their nasty side in a bad tempered affair which was certainly not helped either by some woeful refereeing. We have had some shocking referees recently, none more so than Carl Boyeson yesterday. He quite clearly lost control of this game and finished up flashing seven yellow cards with five Burnley players getting booked! The problem was the balance was wrong and Brighton got away with blue murder after some vicious tackles warranting a sending-off.
I am so pleased we have not got the double over this lot. It would be a travesty of justice if Brighton are rewarded with a play-offs place after that shocking performance and it looks like we may have gone some way to stopping them achieve it. Brighton remain in sixth on 63 points but clubs above them are now pulling ahead and in some cases have a game in hand over the Seagulls. Middlesbrough in 7th on 63 points play Cardiff in 8th on 61 points today (Saturday) and no matter how that game finishes Brighton will drop out of the play-offs positions! Good!
The game yesterday was a pretty dire match to watch thanks mainly to the spoiling tactics of a Brighton team desperate to keep their promotion push going at all costs. It was a quiet first half to be honest with only Austin`s goal adding some spice for Clarets fans to savour. The second half saw Brighton pushing to get the equaliser and dominate proceedings. It was probably because their shooting went astray and they missed chance after chance that frustration set in and they resorted to underhand tactics.
In the end Burnley hung on to secure all three points which was no mean feat against a side that had lost only one match in the 16 games played so far in 2012! The Clarets of course, with their season effectively over are just playing for pride these days but the win did move them up to 13th spot on 56 points and we are now just seven points behind Brighton. That position though could change today since a number of fixtures are being played in the Championship.
Although the season may be over, our remaining five games could all have a bearing on the relegation and promotion scrap. Burnley play bottom club Doncaster at the Keepmoat on Easter Monday and then fourth from bottom club Coventry at home on the following Saturday. We travel to Leicester City who also still have a remote chance of reaching the play-offs on Tuesday 17th April before going to Bloomfield Road on the Saturday to face 5th placed Blackpool. We finish the season off at home when we entertain third from bottom club, Bristol City on Saturday 29th April!
There could be some thrilling matches ahead and a good chance for Burnley to improve significantly on their current position. It would certainly be nice to finish in the top ten even though the play-offs are now realistically beyond us despite being mathematically still possible.
Eddie Howe had a number of injury problems to contend with ahead of this clash but finished up making just one change to the starting eleven. Junior Stanislas was back with Dean Marney dropped to the bench. Marney had picked up mild concussion in the midweek game at home to Brum so this was probably just a precaution.
With both Ben Mee (small back fracture) and Daniel Lafferty (hamstring) both still sidelined, Howe had no option but to once more play Ross Wallace out of position in that role. Indeed Ben Mee now looks set to miss the rest of the season.
With both Pato (hamstring) and Jay Rod (hip and groin injury) also still out injured, we lined up 4-4-2 with Ings and Austin up front.
Howe also kept up his intention to blood some of the young guns by naming three of them on the bench. Wes Fletcher and Steven Hewitt were again on bench duty but with Cameron Howieson not feeling too well, Shay McCartan was given his chance.
Our line up was therefore as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Wallace, McQuoid, Bartley, McCann, Stanislas, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Marney, Fletcher, McCartan, Hewitt
Full Match Report
The Clarets started brightly in the opening exchanges of this game and Brighton too looked to be making a match of it in an entertaining first few minutes.
Marvin Bartley was getting heavily involved and was certainly in the thick of things. The match did not appear to be suffering any hangover from the bad tempered affair at the Amex Stadium at this stage although a late tackle for Bartley did not help and he was booked early on in the 12th minute. Brighton playing 4-1-3-2 with an holding midfielder were struggling to cope with the twin threat of Ings and Austin. Ings came close but soon after it would be Austin who would give the Clarets a deserved lead in the 23rd minute.
It came from a Josh McQuoid cross. Austin pounced but his initial volley was blocked by El-Abd. The loose ball though fell kindly for Austin and keeping his cool, he ran forward rolling the ball inside the penalty box before unleashing a shot which flew into the top left hand corner of the net.
Burnley`s mounting injury crisis continued in the 30th minute when the lively Bartley had to limp off to be replaced by Dean Marney.
Stanislas on the counter attack then nearly set up Austin for his brace just on the half-hour mark but this time the striker could not add to his tally after failing to get his shot in.
At times Burnley were playing some attractive football but could not get their noses further in front despite the best efforts of both attacking full backs. Josh McQuoid came the closest with a header glanced wide of target.
Brighton too had their moments in the last few minutes of the half. A Rodriguez shot from long range was just off target and in stoppage time, former Burnley loan striker, Sam Vokes came close with a header which flew just wide of the post.
The Clarets had to be content with a 1-0 lead at half-time and Howe made no changes for the start of the second half.
Brighton now looked to be the sharper of the two teams and began to take control. Lee Grant had to be on his guard just two minutes into the half after Vokes laid off the ball to Mackail-Smith. The stopper though pulled off a great save to deny the Seagulls an equaliser.
Vokes should have done better with another header but wasted his opportunity. Although Brighton looked to be in the ascendency and enjoying a sustained period of possession, Burnley did have their moments to try and double the lead Ings just failed to get on the end of a Stanislas cross before Trippier unleashed a long-range screamer that flew just wide.
Gus Poyet, now frustrated by his team`s inability to make the pressure count made a double substitution on the hour mark bringing on Buckley and Barnes to replace Jara and Vokes.
Brighton`s top goal scorer, Ashley Barnes almost added to his tally at his first attempt but could only hit Matlock`s low cross over the bar. The game now got very edgy as Brighton`s frustrations began to mount. The referee was now being given a strong test but he seemed to be making all the wrong decisions as far as the Clarets were concerned. Everything seemed to be going the way of Brighton despite some dubious tackles from the Seagulls both on and off the ball.
Burnley would quite simply have to withstand all the pressure despite the woeful refereeing.
With 13 minutes to go, Burnley had an ideal opportunity to make it effectively game over after a charge on the break saw them have a four-on-two advantage. It ended though with Austin scuffing his shot wide of target.
Yet another injury for Eddie Howe in the 87th minute gave the manager even more concern. This time Austin left the pitch with a hip injury to be replaced by 18-year old midfielder, Steven Hewitt to make his senior debut for the club.
Could Burnley now hold on? With all the injuries and suspensions, the fourth official announced six minutes of added time for Burnley to sweat it out and it was Brighton who came closest to scoring. Grant though saved the day after comfortably preventing El-Abd getting an undeserved Brighton equaliser with a header.
Our home form had not been great of late but finally we got a win on home soil for the first time in five matches and managed to keep a clean sheet to boot.
The Post-match Eddie-Torial
Speaking after the game, Eddie Howe said:
"I thought it was a really good football match between two really good teams.
'We started well and scored a really good goal and the second half was more back to the wall, but we dug in really well and that half pleased me most.
'With Ross Wallace, who was excellent, at left back, David Edgar feeling his groin and Marvin coming off with a hamstring injury we are down to the bare bones. So it was a really great effort defensively and a really huge effort and a good win.
'Lee Grant made a great save early in the second half, but he is a very good goalkeeper. He is very good with his feet and for how we want to play that is crucial. I think he has had a good season. He's made one or two mistakes, but who doesn't in life. I certainly do and I'm sure everybody does. It happens, and you have to learn from it and move on.'
Talking about the goal from Austin, Howe continued:
'Charlie has come right back with his hat-trick at Portsmouth and his all-round game today was brilliant. His strike rate is up there with the best and it speaks for itself. He has really got his spark back and he and Danny seem to like playing with each other. It was a tireless effort from both strikers and they were a real thorn in Brighton's side.
'They are a good team and that only adds to my frustration because we have taken six points off them and we really should be higher in the league.'
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, Stanislas, McCann, Bartley (Marney-30), McQuoid, Ings, Austin, (Hewitt-87)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Fletcher, McCartan
Goals: Austin 23,
Booked: Yellow Cards for Bartley (12), McCann (31), Ings (66), Duff (90+4) and Grant (90+6)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Brezovan, Mattock (Noone - 70), Greer, El-Abd, Calderon, Jara (Buckley - 60), Navarro, Vicente, Dicker, Mackail-Smith, Vokes (Barnes - 60)
Subs Not Used: Ankergren, LuaLua
Booked: Yellow Cards for Noone (88) and Vicente (89)
Possession: 43% Burnley, 57% Brighton (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
A special mention to for Steven Hewitt! Vital Burnley`s sponsored youth player this season came on to make his debut yesterday. It will have been a big day for him and although it was only a ten-minute cameo appearance, he kept a cool head and played things sensibly! Well done, Steven!