Vokes Blow Too Much for Outfoxed Burnley!
Saturday 29th March 2014 @12:15pm Kick-Off
The Clarets suffered their first home league defeat of the season after going down 2-0 to Championship leaders, Leicester City on Saturday in front of the Sky Sports cameras! It was simply a tale of relative squad strength in the end with the Clarets already without three key players before kick-off and then suffering the hammer blow of losing Sam Vokes to injury with the game barely 5 minutes old. With striker, Danny Ings already sidelined and with no other recognised strikers in the squad let alone on the bench, the loss of Vokes gave Sean Dyche no option but to change tactics and adopt a 4-5-1 formation with an isolated Ashley Barnes alone up front. It was just too much for the Clarets to recover from in the end and it was painful to watch as Leicester effectively took control as soon as we lost Vokes. Our nemesis, David Nugent got his inevitable goal against his former club putting the Foxes ahead ten minutes before the break and then substitute Chris Wood's well taken dipping shot gave the Foxes a deserved win in the 78th minute. Burnley huffed and puffed but had no answer. The cruel loss of both key strikers not to mention the creativity from Trippier and Marney was always going to make this virtually an impossible task against the top side in the division. It was simply just one very frustrating afternoon. Leicester also lost a key striker, when Jamie Vardy left the pitch with injury in the 34th minute. The difference was of course that they had plenty of options on the bench and their substitute Chris Wood ultimately scored to secure all three points for the visitors. The only pleasing bit of news on a miserable afternoon for Clarets fans was that QPR in third spot were unable to beat a struggling Blackpool side at Loftus Road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw after coming from behind. Harry Redknapp`s men could only reduce the arrears therefore by one point and not three as expected so we are still a comfortable nine points ahead with a vastly superior goal difference. Derby though in 4th easily beat Charlton 3-0 at Pride Park and they are now once again ten points behind Burnley. So our sixteen game run undefeated in the league comes to an end under very unfortunate circumstances. The major worry though is not so much this result but the now serious loss of both our main strikers. Ings is hopefully close to a return but the Vokes injury looks a serious one with reports that the striker was hobbling around on crutches with his knee heavily strapped after the game. It is clear that Ashley Barnes is no target man and we are going to struggle unless we can revert back to 4-4-2. There are now just seven games left to play and thankfully we still have a good cushion over our rivals for automatic promotion below us. That is still though 21 points to play for and it certainly looks set to be a pretty nervous run in at the moment. The sooner we get Vokes and Ings fit again the better not to mention Kieran Trippier. I think personally we also missed the midfield creativity from the suspended Dean Marney as well against the Foxes and his absence hardly got a mention on Sky. All of a sudden it looks like payback time for the Clarets! We have been relatively free of injuries and suspensions all season and now like the proverbial buses, four turn up all at once! Only now are we seeing the dangers of such a small squad so let`s hope it doesn`t give our rivals an advantage over the remaining games and that our points cushion gives enough breathing space.
Dean Marney`s two match automatic suspension after picking up a tenth yellow card in the Doncaster game was the only real headache for Sean Dyche. As expected though, it was Scott Arfield who took his place in centre midfield with Michael Kightly taking over the winger`s role. With both Danny Ings (ankle) and Trippier (hamstring) remaining sidelined, Ashley Barnes and Chris Baird continued in their place. Brian Stock made a welcome return to the eighteen as well. We lined-up therefore as follows:
Heaton, Baird, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Stanislas, Arfield, Jones, Kightly, Barnes, Vokes
Subs: Cisak, Long, Lafferty, Edgar, Wallace, Treacy, Stock.
Full Match Report
Replacement referee, Chris Foy got the match underway and within five minutes disaster struck for the Clarets. Sam Vokes appeared to tweak his knee and had to be replaced with David Edgar coming on in midfield. The Clarets were now forced to resort to a 4-5-1 formation with no striking options on the bench and it soon became evident that the game was now over almost before it began. Ashley Barnes up front alone was never going to work and the struggle to contain the Foxes now began. It was the Clarets though who still managed to create the first opportunity after a pretty uneventful first fifteen minutes. David Jones managed to win back possession before smartly going on a run and was then nearly played-in behind the Leicester defence from a Barnes pass. At the other end, Edgar then got in a crucial block in the 18th minute to deny Drinkwater on the edge of the box. The visitors nearly took the lead though in the 27th minute following defensive confusion in the back four. Vardy was allowed to pick up the ball and charge forward before Jason Shackell came to the rescue to deny the striker following a powerful challenge leading to the ball being cleared. Soon after, Vardy was replaced by Wood and the substitute made an immediate impact. Charging into the Burnley defence, the New Zealand international then laid the ball off to Nugent. The former Burnley striker through some deft footwork on the edge of the area gave himself space to curl a left footed shot past Heaton and give Leicester the lead after 35 minutes. Kightly had a few chances in the final ten minutes of the first half to try and get the Clarets level but it wasn`t to be! Two pretty hopeful efforts flew over the bar before Arfield latched onto a poor clearance from Kasper Schmeichel managing to thread the ball to the on-loan winger down the right. Schmeichel though made amends by cleverly using his feet to prevent a low cross.
Just five minutes into the second-half, the Foxes almost doubled their lead when Anthony Knockaert found space to unleash a left-footed shot from distance that looked to be heading towards target. The ball though hit the crossbar. A few seconds later and a slip from Wes Morgan allowed Arfield to pounce. Racing towards goal though the angle was too tight and his shot was palmed away by the keeper. The Clarets were though to be honest struggling and despite having a lot of the possession most of it was in their own half trying to defend and counter-attack. The Foxes pressure continued when Wood volleyed a shot over the bar just before the hour mark. On 68 minutes, Shackell again had to come to the rescue after managing to intercept a close range effort from left-back Jeff Schlupp. Kightly was trying his best still though despite no real target to aim for. After cutting in from the right, he decided to again have a go himself with a curling shot that tested Schmeichel only to see the keeper punch the ball away. It was effectively curtains though for the Clarets when Leicester finally doubled their lead in the 78th minute. Wood pounced after Michael Duff was unable to clear a long ball thumped over the defence. He then unleashed a powerful shot that gave Heaton no chance; the volley looping over the keeper into the back of the net. Burnley never really looked like reducing the arrears after that, the nearest they came was a late attempt from substitute Keith Treacy which did not really cause any problems for Schmeichel. That was it then, a home defeat for the first time in over 12 months, 23 matches ago! Just a pity it had to come against such a weakened Burnley side made even worse by the early loss of Vokes.
Burnley: Heaton, Baird, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Stanislas (Wallace - 62), Arfield, Jones, Kightly (Treacy - 79), Barnes, Vokes (Edgar - 8)
Subs Not Used: Cisak, Long, Lafferty, Stock
Leicester City: Schmeichel, de Laet, Schlupp, Drinkwater, Wasilewski, Morgan, Knockaert, James, Vardy (Wood - 34), Nugent (Taylor-Fletcher - 72), Mahrez (Hammond - 88)
Subs Not Used: Logan, King, Dyer, Moore
Goals: Nugent 35, Wood 78
Possession: 51% Burnley, 49% Leicester City (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside)