That's Why You`re...Staying Down!
Saturday 14th April 2012 @3pm Kick-Off
It there was ever a game which confirmed the reasons why this season we never really were good enough to reach the play-offs, it was yesterday at Turf Moor. In yet another disappointing home performance, we struggled against a side desperate to survive in the Championship! Coventry City, third from bottom before this match and four points adrift of safety were given a lifeline after Burnley could only draw 1-1 against the Sky Blues despite having taken the lead in the 20th minute.
It was Coventry too who came storming out of the blocks first and but for some stunning saves by Lee Grant we could have been 2-3 goals down in the first 15 minutes! Very much against the run of play, Burnley somehow got their noses in front in virtually their first attack of the game! Charlie Austin headed in a cross from Ross Wallace in the 20th minute to stun a Coventry side who looked to be in the ascendency after putting the Clarets under some intense early pressure.
Clarets fans might now have been hoping we could have killed the game off but the all-too-familiar pattern of Burnley taking their foot off the accelerator and giving the visitors far too much possession began to take over once again. Our home form has been nothing short of atrocious this season and this was yet another classic example of how bad we can be against lowly opposition.
It came as no surprise when Coventry equalised in the 67th minute after Platt nodded in from close range from Oliver Norwood's cross and it came as no surprise when Burnley had no response in the locker to try and regain the lead. The game basically fizzled out and we never looked capable of winning this match even when Coventry had used up all their substitutions and were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes still to play.
The result left the Clarets in 11th spot eight points behind 5th placed Blackpool and 6th placed Cardiff. Yes, I know we still have a mathematically chance of reaching the play-offs with three games and nine points still to play for especially since one of the teams we play is Blackpool at Bloomfield Road but come on...!! Let`s be clear on this we simply DONT deserve to be in the play-offs. We have played far too many games at home this season just like the woeful performance against Coventry on Saturday and quite simply some of the shocking displays at Turf Moor have cost us dear and basically wrecked any chance whatsoever of a top six finish.
Marvin Bartley in the end was deemed fit enough to play but had to be content with a place on the bench. The midfielder had picked up a hamstring tweak in the Good Friday game at home to Brighton and had missed our last game away to Doncaster on Easter Monday.
Ross Wallace was again in the makeshift role of left back, despite Daniel Lafferty, our recognised left back on the bench again. One can only assume he has still not fully recovered enough from his hamstring problem and is on the bench in an emergency capacity.
Eddie Howe continues to give his young guns a chance and this time 19 year old striker, Joe Jackson, who had just been recalled from a loan spell at Barrow, was given his opportunity on the bench.
Our sixteen then was as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, McQuoid, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Lafferty, Bartley, Howieson, Jackson
Full Match Report
Coventry City came to Turf Moor holding the worst away record in the Championship with just twelve goals on the road all season but you would not have thought so based on the hectic first fifteen minutes of this match. There was only one team at the races in these opening exchanges with Burnley under considerable pressure and looking the most likely to concede first. Our hero was most definitely keeper, Lee Grant who kept the Sky Blues at bay with some breathtaking saves.
The first real danger for the Clarets came after ten minutes. Sky Blues captain, Sammy Clingan took a corner and as the ball came over there was Richard Keogh to head powerfully on target . It looked certain to cross the line before Kieran Trippier saved the day with a stunning clearance.
The next threat came from on-loan Manchester City striker, Alex Nimely. Charging into the box, he unleashed a low shot which flew towards the bottom corner of the net only for Lee Grant to pull off an impressive save. Nimely was causing our defence all sorts of problems and in yet another attempt his direct approach and lively pace nearly gave Coventry the lead they deserved a before Grant once more denied the 20-year old.
Clarets fans watching on could not believe their eyes as Coventry continued to be virtually camped in our half with our lacklustre back four clueless and our midfield still struggling to get out of first gear. It was with some relief therefore that remarkably we took the lead from virtually our first attacking move of the game in the 20th minute.
Ross Wallace has further to run forward these days from the left back position but he did just that before crossing the ball over to find Austin ideally placed. Rising up to meet the ball, Austin headed into the top corner of the net with the keeper stranded and running in the opposite direction. The former Swindon striker is on fire at the moment and this was his sixth goal in five games bringing his tally for the season to now 17 goals.
The home crowd were hoping Coventry`s heads would now drop with the Clarets scoring very much against the run of play. Surely Burnley could now go on and win comfortably? For a time it looked like we might. After being rewarded with a corner, you just knew Burnley would try their well-rehearsed routine; a routine which has foxed a number of teams this season. The Edgar step-over was this time latched onto by Danny Ings. Unleashing a shot, his attempt was heading for the net before being blocked by Cranie in front of goal. It was Ings again who threatened to double our lead after a brilliant solo run saw him see off the Sky Blues defence only for their keeper, Joe Murphy to save his left-footed shot. Austin then got the better of Cranie and bringing the ball back from the goal line saw this attempt thwarted by the keeper who managed to save the danger with his legs.
Burnley may have rued missing those chances because Coventry were certainly not prepared to give up and all credit to them were fighting hard to get the equaliser. It remained 1-0 at half-time though and the Clarets started the second half without making any changes.
A rather subdued Junior Stanislas in the first half then suddenly seemed to wake up from the restart and had two opportunities to increase our lead. A clearance by the Sky Blues keeper on the edge of the penalty area fell nicely for the former West Ham winger. Rather than lift the ball over the keeper at the first attempt though, he delayed and instead tried to run forward and shoot only to fire wide of target. He hesitated again soon after when he found he was in space from a deep cross. Marney this time pounced instead but could only fire over the top of the bar.
Coventry sensing they were now in danger of conceding again decided to go for broke with Andy Thorn making a triple substitution in the 56th minute. It would later be a decision the Coventry gaffer may have regretted following an injury to substitute, Cyrus Christie who limped off with fifteen minutes to play reducing Coventry to ten men.
The changes at the time though almost had an immediate effect and it wasn`t too long before Coventry had managed to equalise.
A cross from Cranie found substitute Clive Platt in an ideal position to rise up and head home from just eight yards out with Grant stranded.
It was a blow for the Clarets and we simply had nothing left in the locker to try and recover and retake the lead. Eddie Howe had few options to change things round with so many youngsters on the bench but he did decide to bring off Dean Marney in the 69th minute and give Marvin Bartley the chance to come on and liven things up.
Murphy was equal to a long range effort from Wallace and a deflected shot by Ings flew just wide after the striker had turned to meet a McQuoid cross. That was it though really and the game petered out to its inevitable conclusion i.e. more costly dropped points at home!
The Clarets showed little fighting spirit even in the last fifteen minutes playing with a one man advantage so it finished up being yet another frustrating day on home soil for Burnley fans.
The Post-match Eddie-Torial
Eddie Howe ruing yet another disappointing draw and points lost at home said after the game:
'If you look at the games we should have won here (Turf Moor) it's a huge frustration and it's the most important thing we need to address next year. We have more points away from home, which is unusual and the balance is trying to keep our away form as good as it is and try to improve here.'
Specifically in relation to the Coventry match he said:
'It was a scrappy game and we weren't good enough. We never really had control of the game and didn't play as well as we have in recent weeks.
'We got a great goal against the run of play and I felt that would have given us the platform to kick on, but it didn't really happen and it was only in the last phase of the game, when they were down to 10 men, that we created a number of chances.
'It's a disappointment because recently our performance levels have been good, but I felt there was a little bit of fatigue there today. We looked a little leggy and with a small squad it probably looked a game too far, but we have another game on Tuesday and we have to try to get them to go again.'
Any lingering Clarets fans who still believe we can reach the play-offs may now have to accept the view of the glass-half empty manager who finally conceded yesterday:
'I would imagine it's pretty much all over now,
"We needed to win all our games and we haven't done that, which makes it pretty remote"
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, McCann, Marney (Bartley - 69), Stanislas, McQuoid, Ings, Austin
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Lafferty, Howieson, Jackson,
Goal: Austin 20
Booked: Yellow Card for Marney (45 + 1)
Coventry City: Murphy, Keogh, Hussey, Cranie, Clarke (Christie - 56`), Clingan, Bell (Bigirimana - 56`), Norwood, McSheffrey, McDonald, Nimely (Platt - 56')
Subs Not Used: Dunn, Willis
Goal: Platt 67
Booked: Yellow Cards for Platt (63) and Murphy (90 +1)
Possession: 49% Burnley, 51% Coventry (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire)