Elland Back as Relegation Fears Return
Tuesday 16th April 2013 @7:45pm Kick-Off
It was a bad, bad night for the Clarets after going down 1-0 to Leeds United. It was a result that plunged the Clarets into a relegation dogfight with most of the other results going the wrong way. The defeat sees the Clarets drop to 17thspot but despite having 54 points that is now only three ahead of the third from bottom club, Huddersfield with three games of the season remaining. Our only saviour could be our goal difference in the end. A minus one goal difference compares to minus 25 for Huddersfield and most of the other clubs who could get relegated have inferior negative goal differences to Burnley so that could be worth an extra crucial point. It was a night that also saw Bristol City relegated so now there are just places for the drop to decide. Cardiff City, who we play next at Turf Moor on Saturday, were also confirmed as one the automatic promotion sides which could be a good thing. The current Championship leaders might now be more relaxed although they could still come out fighting determined to be confirmed Champions. It looks a virtually certainty anyway with second place Hull already seven points adrift. How it has come to this for the Clarets god only knows but it looks like it will be a nervy end to the season! Two games remain after Saturday and the match against fellow relegation-threatened Wolves at Molineux the following Saturday could be a right bum-squeaker. Our only advantage if it goes to the wire could be our last match which is at home against Ipswich, another club still not out of the woods! Remarkably just seven points separate the second from bottom club, Barnsley and Charlton in 9th spot so to say things are tight is an understatement. There was also more grim news for Clarets fans last night ahead of the game after learning that Charlie Austin would now most likely miss the rest of the season. He went down with appendicitis on Monday and had an operation on Tuesday morning to remove his appendix. He is doing well by all accounts and there are no complications but it left Clarets fans wondering if they had seen the last of Charlie in a Burnley shirt with the summer transfer window nearly upon us and Premier League clubs sniffing around for his services. It all that was not bad enough, Blackburn Rovers also beat Huddersfield 1-0 at Ewood Park to move to within one point of the Clarets with a game in hand.
In the match last night Burnley rarely looked like making any impression against a lively Leeds side and in the end a goal from another Austin, sadly not ours was enough to seal all three points for the Yorkshire lot. Rodolph Austin scored for Leeds in the 62nd minute and although we had a few chances to equalise it never really looked like we would salvage anything from the wreckage of a miserable night. New Leeds manager, Brian McDermott seems to have the knack against the Clarets. He has won the last six games, the first five of course with his previous club, Reading. What a torrid season this is now proving to be and who would have thought we would be in this predicament after that remarkable day at Wembley back in May 2009. Now we really have to dig deep and come out fighting starting with at least a point against promoted Cardiff on Saturday.
Dyche elected to opt for Paterson in light of the Austin situation and he partnered Vokes up front with Danny Ings having to be content with a place on the bench. Pato`s pace was probably thought to be more crucial in this clash. One further change to the starting eleven against Blackpool saw Kacaniklic replace Stanislas who returned to the bench. We lined up therefore as follows:
Grant, Trippier, Long, Shackell, Mee, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Kacaniklic, Paterson, Vokes
Subs: Jensen, Lafferty, Bartley, Edgar, Stock, Stanislas, Ings
Full Match Report
Burnley looked quite bright in the opening stages and Kacaniklic, returning to the side after a virus infection unleashed an early 18 yard shot only to see the ball deflected for a corner. The Clarets though were now on the front foot and McCann was given enough space to wend his way over the 18 yard line before unleashing a shot. His right-footed shot though curled over the angle and after that Leeds began to come into their own and gradually took control. Ross McCormack got to the left by-line before cutting in only to see Jason Shackell get in a timely clearance. Leeds now turned the screw and the pressure mounted on the Clarets following four successive corners in quick succession. Only the last one though jangled the Burnley fans nerves. The ball bobbled across the six yard box but thankfully no Leeds player was near enough to take advantage and the danger passed. The home side were now enjoying most of the possession although Burnley were defending well. The visitors though just couldn`t seem to get Vokes and Paterson into action and they began to look more-and-more isolated up front with Leeds beginning to dominate the midfield. A long distance shot by McCormack just past the halfway mark of the first half flew thankfully wide but as the break approached Burnley suddenly went up a gear and created two of the best chances of the game. Wallace was allowed to pick his spot from 25 yards out and his daisy-cutter flew just wide of Paddy Kenny`s left hand post. Paterson was then the quickest to react to Marney`s pass after the former Hull midfielder had toe-poked the ball from the right but his driven shot flew into the side netting. Leeds had sensed that Ben Mee might be the weakest link in the Burnley defence and they had been concentrating on that flank throughout the game giving Mee a busy time. In a surprise just before half-time, Dyche replaced Mee bringing on Lafferty in the 45th minute. Mee didn`t look injured so it remains to be seen why that decision was made but it is yet another worry for Burnley fans. Goalless at half-time neither manager made any changes for the start of the second half.
If Mee was thought to be a weak link then Lafferty simply took up that mantle as Leeds continued to threaten down that flank. Leeds nearly scored within sixteen seconds of the restart with the Burnley defence caught out straight from the kick-off. El-Hadji Diouf crossed from the right to find Luke Varney completely unmarked in the six-yard box. Thankfully though he just couldn`t get enough purchase on the ball but it was an early let-off for the Clarets. Five minutes later, Lee Grant, who had been pretty quiet despite the Leeds pressure, then earned his salt after tipping over a Varney header in some style following a deep cross.
Dyche decided to bring on Stanislas for Paterson in the 54th minute but is was Leeds who broke the deadlock eight minutes later. El-Hadji Diouf`s audacious skill in controlling the ball on the left flank led to the goal and his accurately flighted cross gave Rudolph Austin the chance to slot past Grant from 10 yards out which he achieved with some ease. Burnley were now desperate to get back in the game and try and salvage at least a point. Dyche now had to change things around so, on came Ings to replace Wallace in 66th minute. That may not have been a wise choice considering Wallace had been one of our more creative players on the pitch but it led to a change in formation and for a time Burnley played with more urgency and effectiveness. Ings and Stanislas were now getting further forward and with 14 minutes to go McCann came close to an equaliser. His 18 yard effort though curled just wide. Kacaniklic then nearly set up Ings but his volley from 12 yards out flew wide. Leeds though were always a threat and they came close to doubling their lead following a McCormack free-kick which was just wide of target. Although Burnley pressed forward in the closing stages that elusive equaliser nearly really looked likely and no clear chances were created.
Leeds United: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Tonge, Austin, Green, Diouf, McCormack (Somma-84), Varney
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Drury, White, Habibou, Poleon, Hall.
Goals: Austin (62)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Byram (9) and Varney (85)
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Long, Mee (Lafferty-45), Kacaniklic, Marney, McCann, Wallace (Ings-65), Vokes, Paterson (Stanislas-53)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Edgar, Bartley, Stock
Booked: Yellow Cards for Mee (13), Paterson (40), Marney (82) and Shackell (90+3)
Possession: 54% Leeds United, 46% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref:Fred Graham (Essex)