No Win Yet but Two Goals and a Point at Leicester!
King Power Stadium
Saturday 4th October 2014 @3pm Kick-Off
At long last Burnley thanks to Michael Kightly scored a goal in their game in the King Power Stadium on Saturday and despite Leicester leading 2-1 well into extra time it was left to Ross Wallace from a direct free-kick to lift Burnley fans spirits by adding another and snatching a late equaliser. This was a richly deserved point by a Burnley team suffering a number of key injuries in midfield and upfront. In the second-half they dominated possession and threatened to get an equaliser on several occasions roared on by a vocal and confident fan base in the away end. After the West Brom debacle and the 4-0 drubbing at 'The Hawthorns` last Sunday, Burnley fans optimism had taken a bit of a dive considering the Clarets had still not won this season and had not even scored a goal in five games. We need not have worried though, this was a vastly improved performance where we took the game to the Foxes and threatened throughout despite the injuries and a number of players getting to grips with unfamiliar roles. The Clarets started brightly and looked much better reverting back to the 4-4-2 formation with Barnes and Jutkiewicz up front. It was a body blow though when Leicester got their noses in front the 33rd minute after a spell of Burnley domination. Were we ever going to score again? You did begin to wonder as chance after chance went begging. At long last though six minutes before the break Burnley got that all important uplifting goal when Kightly rushed in to slot home from close range and put the Clarets back on level terms. It was a massive relief but the joy didn`t last long with the Foxes retaking the lead just a minute later. In the second-half Burnley pressed and pressed but it looked like another defeat until the Wallace free-kick saved the day and sent 2,196 Clarets fans home happy.
The point lifts Burnley temporarily at least off the foot of the table with bottom club QPR playing their game today (Sunday) away to West Ham. The Clarets second from bottom now have four points from seven games with QPR just behind on the same number of points with a game advantage. Our goal difference is better than QPR by two goals but just a point today would allow the Rs to leapfrog Burnley.
The only sad note of the day was that Kieran Trippier had to be stretchered off injured in the second-half but post-match reports from the gaffer suggest the injury was not as bad as first feared. Whilst I was standing at Leicester railway station I overheard our co-chairman John B also tell his mates that Trips would be OK so here is hoping! At least all our injured players now have up to two weeks to try and fully recover with the International break now upon us. Only Sam Vokes from the injury list will definitely not be fit enough to play on that timescale!
It must have been a major selection headache for Sean Dyche with so many key senior players out injured especially in the centre of midfield. There was also the question of the formation and tactics. Would we stick with the somewhat unsuccessful 4-1-4-1 strategy at the Hawthorns last Sunday or revert back to the more familiar 4-4-2? In the end it was 4-4-2 but we had to make do in midfield. Stephen Ward took up an unfamiliar role in centre midfield to make his first start partnered by Scott Arfield (normally a winger). Michael Kightly and George Boyd played on the flanks. Ashley Barnes was also handed his first start of the season partnering the Juke up front. The line-up therefore was as follows :
: Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Kightly, Ward, Arfield, Boyd, Barnes, Jutkiewicz
Subs: Gilks, Lafferty, Keane, Long, Hewitt, Wallace, Sordell
Full Match Report
The Clarets were out of the block first and pressed hard in the early stages of the game to get that elusive goal. After five minutes Lukas Jutkiewicz on a run got in behind the Foxes defence to put across a dangerous ball that flashed pass the face of goal. Kightly though was a bit too far away to make contact and open the scoring. Leicester hit back but Heaton was equal to it easily saving a long-range effort from Drinkwater. It was a more impressive save in the 18th minute when Heaton denied Mahrez after pushing his low strike behind at full strectch for a corner. The game was becoming an entertaining spectacle for the neutral although neither team could dominate possession in the opening 25 minutes or so. Ben Mee saved the day after getting his body in the way of a Wes Morgan header from a corner. The ball fell dangerously to Liam Moore but he couldn`t keep his shot on target. Back came Burnley and just past the half-hour mark, Barnes from outside the box got in a well-taken shot that tested Foxes keeper, Kasper Schmeichel to the full. If anything at this stage Burnley looked likely to score and seemed to be enjoying a little bit more of the possession. In the 33rd minute though disaster struck when up popped the effective-looking Mahrez on the right side of the penalty area to cleverly pull the ball back to Schlupp. Getting away from his marker, he managed to divert the ball over the line and put the Foxes 1-0 up. Burnley came back fighting though and got back on equal terms just six minutes later. It was some particularly composed play from Scott Arfield that led to the goal after the Scot latched onto the ball from 25 yards out and lifted it towards the far post. Jutkiewicz then knocked the ball down nicely into the path of Michael Kightly who shot home from close range. At long last Burnley fans could celebrate a goal but the cheering had hardly time to die down before Leicester got back the lead within a minute from the restart. Schlupp combined well with Jamie Vardy on the right and the latter`s cross found the unmarked Mahrez to head home at the far post via an inadvertent flick on from Jason Shackel. It was a cruel blow so close to half-time but could the Clarets lift their game yet again and come back fighting in the second-half?
Neither manager made any changes for the start of the second-half and as the half progressed neither side could take advantage and control the game but Burnley impressively kept pressing for that equaliser. Just before the hour mark, Jutkiewicz headed wide of the post following a pass from Mee into the box. It was now time for Dyche to make some changes and in the 67th minute on came Sordell for a lacklustre Boyd. The former Watford and Bolton striker was soon in action too after running forward to try and latch onto a Barnes ball that got in behind the Foxes defence. Schmeichel raced off his line though and just managed to clear the danger in time. A well-struck effort from the Juke on the turn from outside the box flew just wide of target as Burnley stepped up a gear. Jutkiewicz was then denied by Schmeichel just a few moments later. The Burnley roar from the away end spurred on the Clarets and it looked like an equalising goal could be on the cards with the home team now under pressure. It was all looking promising but there was a setback when Trippier went down following a collision with Schlupp and had to be stretchered off. It looked a serious injury to his right ankle but post-match comments suggest he will be fine and could soon be back in action after the international break. On came, Michael Keane, our loan defender from Manchester United to make his debut and play the last four minutes of the game. Although the ball was now predominantly in the Leicester half, the Foxes always looked dangerous and it needed Heaton in the 89th minute to deny Moore following a header from a set-piece.
Despite the possession Burnley were now enjoying the game looked to be slipping away as seven minutes of added time approached mainly due to the time taken to treat Trips. Six minutes into added time and still no equaliser despite still creating chances. It looked to be a job well done but no points until Arfield won a free-kick just outside the penalty area in the dying seconds of the game. It was last chance saloon as Wallace stepped up to take the set-piece. Crash, bang, wallop the ball flew over the wall and sailed beautifully into the right hand corner of the net with Schmeichel floundering and not covering his area properly. It was a fantastic end to a good day at the office despite still looking for that elusive first win of the season. This one felt like a win though! Well done lads, great performance!
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky, Mahrez (Knockaert 72), Drinkwater, Hammond (James 78), Schlupp, Ulloa (Nugent 63), Vardy
Subs not used: Hamer, Wasilewski, King, Wood
Goals: Schlupp 33, Mahrez 40
Booked: Yellow cards for Schlupp (76) and Nugent (90 + 4)
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier (Keane 86), Duff, Shackell, Mee, Kightly (Wallace 78), Arfield, Boyd (Sordell 67), Ward, Barnes, Jutkiewicz
Subs not used: Gilks, Long, Lafferty, Hewitt
Goals: Kightly 39, Wallace 90+6
Booked: Yellow cards for Ward (7) and Arfield (53)
Possession: 54% Leicester City, 46% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)