Reality Check for Burnley in Amex!
The Amex Stadium
Saturday 24th August 2013 @3 pm Kick-Off
Burnley suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday going down 2-0 to Brighton in the Amex Stadium. This was basically a bad day at the office with the team also being reduced to ten men following Tom Heaton`s sending off for a dubious second yellow offence just before the hour mark. Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan was also sent to the stands for protesting the decision. It was not initially clear why the keeper was sent off although it was later suggested it was for '"unsporting behaviour". Seagulls winger, Will Buckley challenged Heaton for a loose ball on the 18-yard line but when the Clarets stopper grabbed the ball inside his area the initial thoughts were that hand-ball had been awarded after the keeper picked up the ball hence the protest by Woan. It was the linesman who drew the incident to the referee`s attention and it was later clarified that Heaton had taken a second succcesive touch despite Buckley clearly making contact. Some you win, some you lose and to be honest Heaton was probably lucky only to pick up a yellow card for the first incident. Burnley might appeal the decision but at the moment Heaton will only miss one game and that will be an ideal opportunity for second-string keeper, Alex Cisak to make a mark. Cisak will now make his first start of the season against Preston in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night with Heaton hopefully returning for the next Championship game away to Derby on the following Saturday. Kevin Long too will be glad to have left Sussex after being the culprit that led to one of the goals with another defensive blunder nearly leading to Heaton`s being dismissed earlier than he eventually was. Brighton were easily the better team on the day and deserved their first home victory of the season with the Clarets struggling to make any sort of impression especially down the flanks and up front. It`s a pity for the Clarets because they had an ideal opportunity to go top of the League had they beaten the Seagulls instead the defeat sees them drop six places to 9th in the table.
Burnley boss, Sean Dyche made two changes to his starting 11 for the first time this season; one forced, one unforced! Ross Wallace we knew would be sidelined with a knee problem requiring surgery. The winger had the surgery on Friday and is now expected to be out for 3-4 months. Scott Arfield officially replaced him to make his first full debut of the season. Keith Treacy had also been thought to be in contention but he made the starting eleven in any case following the gaffer`s decision to drop Stanislas to the bench. Michael Duff also made a welcome return to the eighteen following a hamstring injury after being named on the bench. The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:
Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Long, Lafferty, Treacy, Marney, Jones, Arfield, Vokes, Ings
Subs: Cisak, Duff, Mee, Edgar, Stock, Stanislas, Noble.
The gaffer could easily have selected a more defensive formation and played just Vokes up front with Ings playing out wide bringing in Stock as a holding midfielder. Sean Dyche though decided to be more attack minded and stick with 4-4-2 and despite the eventual outcome he should be applauded for that decision.
Full Match Report
Surrey referee, Darren Sheldrake got the game underway on a pretty grim, wet day on the South Coast. 400 Clarets had made the six hour journey down to the ground hoping to see their team continue their unbeaten start to the season. Keith Treacy has had so many false dawns in his career so far with the Clarets suffering both problems on and off the pitch but speaking to the media this week, he said the 'penny had dropped` and with Sean Dyche`s help he was now ready to make his mark. Now was his chance to prove it. It was Treacy too who was involved in the early action. He was involved in the build-up that led to a chance for Danny Ings to open the scoring in the sixth minute. Kuszczak though was able to gather the ball into his arms at the near post following the striker`s sweeped attempt on goal. In the 20th minute, Treacy managed to set himself free following a scramble to feed Arfield. The former Huddersfield midfielder though from the left side of the area could only scuff his shot with the Seagulls` keeper managing to turn the ball away for a corner. The first twenty minutes of this game was pretty much 'Even Stevens 'with the home side patiently waiting to pounce and comfortably soaking up anything Burnley could chuck at them. The Clarets defence had not been tested too much although they did have a few palpitations when Inigo Calderon`s shot flew just wide of target. It was Brighton though who took the lead in the 28th minute and sadly it was due to a defensive blunder. Kevin Long under pressure from the effective-looking lone striker, Ulloa scuffed a feeble back-pass back to the keeper and Ulloa pounced. Crofts picked up his squared ball and unmarked slotted the ball home to make it 1-0 to the home side. Burnley tried to hit back quickly and after being awarded a free-kick in the centre circle, Treacy was again in action this time taking on the right back before putting over a low cross which frustratingly flew across the six yard box with no Burnley player in sight. Two minutes before the break Brighton fans were up in arms when they thought Heaton should have been sent off. Another blunder by Long left Heaton stranded outside his area after an attempted weak header back to the keeper. Heaton looked to have upended and fouled Buckley after the winger had tried to get round him 30 yards from goal. Buckley though had been heading away from goal and Shackell had managed to get back to cover in the centre. That situation may have influenced the referee`s decision but either way Heaton was lucky to get away with only a yellow card much to the disbelief and anger of the home contingent with boos now echoing around the ground.
No changes were made by Dyche for the start of the second half and once again Brighton looked to be in control. Heaton was being kept busy and twice had to save from Ulloa although both were pretty routine for the former Cardiff and Bristol City stopper. Just before the hour mark though disaster struck for the Clarets with the home crowd finally getting their wish and seeing Heaton sent off after picking up a controversial second yellow card. The Burnley keeper had collected the ball inside his own penalty area under pressure from Will Buckley, after deciding not to attempt a roll-out. The linesman raised his flag for 'unsporting behaviour' based on a dubious second successive touch. It was clear though that Buckley had touched the ball so Burnley may well appeal. Burnley could do nothing though despite the protests and anger and in effect it was game over 18 minutes from time when Brighton doubled their lead over the Clarets now reduced to ten men. Ulloa had easily been Brighton`s biggest threat and had been a handful for the Clarets all afternoon. He sealed a miserable day for Burnley to thump a well-taken header into the bottom corner of the net and end any hope of the Clarets salvaging something from the game. Before the game even the` Voice of Burnley` on Clarets Player, club media spokesman, Daz Bentley admitted the squad was now down to the bare bones and really that was on display in this game. The players were subdued and lacklustre with Dyche not having many options on the bench to change things round. It is also pretty worrying now for Clarets fans should any player go down seemingly injured. The club surely has to release some cash before Monday 2nd September when the transfer window closes or at least bring in some loans. There is absolutely no way we could sustain a season with the current squad and it would be cruel of the club to put us through such potential torture.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Kuszczak, Greer, Calderon, Ward, Upson, Crofts, Agustien (Caskey-74) , David Lopez (LuaLua-66), Ulloa, Buckley (March-90), Ince
Subs Not Used: Brezovan, El-Abd, Chicksen, Maksimenko
Goals: Crofts 28, Ulloa 72
Yellow Card for Upson (37 mins)
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Long, Lafferty, Treacy (Cisak-59), Marney, Jones (Edgar-79), Arfield, Vokes, Ings (Stanislas-74)
Subs Not Used: Duff, Mee, Stock, Noble
Yellow Cards for Heaton (44,58 mins) and Jones (70 mins). Red Card (second yellow) for Heaton (58 mins) Possession: 49% Brighton, 51% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)