Great Ride into The Valley!
Saturday 2nd March 2013 @3pm Kick-Off
Into The Valley of Death rode the nine hundred Clarets fans? Well not exactly despite the grim performances of late. The Clarets came away from 'The Valley` with a 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic to win their first game in seven matches. It was actually an inspiring performance and even more remarkable considering we had five key players out injured. A stunning first half display in which the Clarets took the game to the Addicks was finally rewarded with a goal in the 43rd minute and what a stunner it was! Charlie Austin got on the end of a 25 yard pile-driver to silence the home crowd and send 921 Clarets fans into ecstasy. In the second-half Charlton dominated possession and put the Clarets defence under considerable pressure but it was a gritty performance from Lee Grant and the back four and we held on for a very rewarding victory. The win sees the Clarets move up two places to 11th spot although there is still a mountain to climb to get back in the play-offs race. We remain eight points behind sixth-placed club, Brighton who also have a game in hand. The weekend got even better for Clarets fans though when news came through that Rovers had lost 3-2 at home to lowly Peterborough. Burnley are now above Blackburn having two points more than our deadly rivals who are one place behind now in 12thspot with both clubs having played the same number of games. The derby later this month at Ewood Park is looking like a right nail-biter now and it`s about time we had some of the bragging rights!
Sean Dyche was forced into ringing the changes with five of our key players out injured and he seemed to go even further than he needed to probably because he was conscious of the terrible performance at home to Huddersfield the previous Tuesday night. Chris McCann and Dean Marney joined Ross Wallace, Michael Duff and Ben Mee on the injury list ahead of this clash. Clearly with both McCann and Marney now out of action and Wallace still sidelined, our midfield had taken a serious knock so it was perhaps no surprise when Dyche dabbled in the loan market on Friday to bring in Fulham winger and central midfielder, Alexander Kačaniklić. He was drafted straight into the starting eleven and lined-up on the left flank with Junior Stanislas also making a return to his more favoured right wing position. The midfield in effect took a major overall and in the end looked something like a diamond formation with David Edgar also coming back into the starting eleven to play in that midfield role along with central midfielder, Marvin Bartley. Martin Paterson was back in attack too supporting Austin up front. Our line up then was follows :
Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Long, Lafferty, Edgar, Stanislas , Bartley, Kacaniklic, Paterson, Austin
Subs: Jensen, O'Neill, Mills, Stock, Treacy, Ings, Vokes
Full Match Report
Wiltshire referee, Simon Hooper got the game underway on a sunny but fairly cold day in South East London. Burnley looked bright from the offset and could have taken the lead as early as the 12th minute had a borderline offside decision not gone against Paterson. Pato had run onto a Stanislas pass to thump the ball into the net but his joy was short-lived after the referee scratched the goal off for offside. The Clarets though were now playing with some fluency and looking the most likely team to break the deadlock with Charlton looking distinctly average and lacklustre. You could see why the Addicks had the worst home record in the Championship and their only attempts came from set-pieces which the Burnley defence mopped up with some ease. Paterson had another attempt on goal but this time his shot in the penalty area flew over the bar. The angle was then too tight for Austin to head home after latching onto a deep Trippier cross. Charlton had one or two attempts though. Lee Grant was equal to a Haynes effort punching his header away to safety and in a rare momentary defensive lapse by the Burnley backline, Michael Morrison should have done better after latching onto a headed pass from Dorian Dervite. The pitch at 'The Valley` was by no means ideal with huge bare patches to contend with but Burnley stuck to their task playing some delightful passing football at times and earning the lion`s share of possession. Kacaniklic was beginning to test the Addicks defence with some telling crosses and he was then involved in a short corner with Stanislas on the opposite flank that led to an attempt on goal. Button had to dive to his right to save the Sweden international`s rasping shot and the score stubbornly remained 0-0. Austin then latched onto a Stanislas cross but his shot took a deflection off defender Lawrie Wilson to fly just wide of target. Burnley fans were beginning to think that the same old story was about to unfold, namely lots of possession but not being able to make it count! The Clarets had not scored now in 350 minutes but that all changed two minutes before half-time after Austin unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards out that flew into the back of the net to give the former Swindon striker his 25th goal of the season for the Clarets and his second since returning from injury. It was a tremendous goal; with Austin latching onto the ball from a Lafferty pass thirty yards out before cutting inside to thump the ball with his right foot across a bemused Addicks keeper into the top corner of the net. Burnley deservedly went into the dressing room ahead and after such possession there was no need for Sean Dyche to make any changes for the start of the second-half so he didn`t!
The second -half would be a different story altogether but this time our defence would take all the accolades with Charlton now looking much more sharper and determined. Charlton were straight out of the blocks for the start of the second-half and nearly caught the Clarets out before they had time to settle back into the swing of things. Bradley Pritchard dragged a shot wide and the Addicks were then awarded a corner which should not have been given. Had they scored from it, Clarets fans would have been in uproar but thankfully Jonathan Obika just failed to get a toe onto the ball as it bounced around dangerously in front of goal. Ricardo Fuller, somewhat of a nemesis striker, then steered a shot over the top as Charlton began to take control and enjoy some possession. The Addicks though looked vulnerable on the counter-attack and Burnley tried to take full advantage with new boy, Kačaniklić leading the way. In one break, the Charlton keeper spilled the ball following a Trippier cross with Austin just failing to pounce. A second goal would have relieved all the pressure but it wasn`t going to be and Burnley fans had to sweat out most of the half with Charlton it seemed permanently camped in our half reducing the Clarets to the odd break or two. Our defence though was playing a blinder and time-and-time again they mopped up all the danger. When they didn`t or couldn`t Lee Grant was on hand to save the day! A cross from Wilson looked to have set up the equaliser for Haynes but his header was no match for Grant who made a superb save. The Charlton gaffer, Chris Powell could sense his side needed some additional oomph and just past the hour mark decided to make a double substitution bringing on Harriotts and Green for Dervite and Obika. Sean Dyche too was toying with the idea of making some changes with Burnley beginning to wilt a bit under the pressure. In the 73rd minute on came Danny Ings to replace Stanislas with Paterson now playing a wider role. It was by now though all one-way traffic in Charlton`s favour and the last fifteen minutes would be a particularly sweaty affair for Clarets fans. An equaliser looked certain with 12 minutes to go after Haynes flicked on a corner and Morrison just failed to make contact at full stretch as the ball dropped just beyond the far post. Charlton were now pouring everybody forward in a last ditch effort to share the spoils and it was a nervy end to the game especially when it was announced there would be another five minutes of added time to play! Where did they get that from? More nerves, more sweating but the Clarets held on to inflict an eighth home defeat on the Addicks and keep their slim play-offs hopes alive.
Charlton Athletic: Button, Morrison, Wiggins, Cort, Dervite (Harriotts - 63), Jackson, Pritchard, Wilson, Haynes, Fuller, Obika (Green - 63)
Subs Not Used: Hamer, Evina, Taylor, Hughes, Wagstaff
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Long, Lafferty, Edgar, Stanislas (Ings - 73), Bartley, Kačaniklić (Stock - 88), Paterson, Austin (Vokes - 84)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, O'Neill, Mills, Treacy
Goal: Austin (43)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Austin (64), Lafferty (73), Vokes (85) and Paterson (90+4)
Possession: 58% Charlton Athletic, 42% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)