We Needed a Friend!
17th February 2007
A spirited fightback in the second half was not enough to prevent yet another defeat despite the Clarets having most of the run of play with Wolves hanging on in the last few minutes. This awful run continues therefore and we have now gone 12 league matches without a win. We have slipped back to 15th place with still only 39 points, thats seven points more than the relegation zone with a game in hand.
Interestingly both teams started this match with exactly the same line-up as their previous games. One question was whether Ade Akinbiyi, returning to the ground of one of his many former clubs and Andy Gray, playing against his former manager,Mick McCarthy from their Sunderland days would both return to top form and exploit the relatively poor home form of Wolves. The club had only won one of their last nine games at Molyneux.
Steve Caldwell would again take up the captain's armband with Thomas on the bench and for Wolves, Craddock would not be deemed fit enough to start. Wolves also seemed to start with a makeshift defence with a number of their back four playing out of position.
The teams lined up therefore as follows:
Burnley: Coyne: Harley, Duff, McGreal, Caldwell, Elliott, Gudjonsson, J O'Connor, Jones, Gray, Akinbiyi.
Subs: Thomas, Foster, McCann, Lafferty, Djemba-Djemba
Wolves: Murray, Collins, Olofinjana, McNamara, Henry, Edwards, Potter, Ward, McIndoe, Kightly, Keogh.
Subs: Craddock, Bothroyd, Clapham, Davies, Budtz
Caldwell led out the lads in their home strip of Claret & Blue and one wonders what was going through his mind and those of him team mates as they tried to win their first away match since Luton back in October.
Kevin Friend, who would prove to be no friend of the Clarets blew the whistle for the start of the match with all Clarets fans praying for a change in fortune.
That prayer was soon dashed after only 4 minutes when some sloppy defensive work and poor marking allowed Kightly a free header into the back of the net from a McNamara cross. There was a suspicion of offside, but this 'homer' of a referee would have none of it and again the Clarets found themselves behind within the first 15 minutes. How many matches have we played recently where this has happened? We really do need to get up to speed earlier and put a stop to these costly defensive errors.
Mr 'No Clarets Mates', sorry Mr Friend proved his worth to Wolves again after about 25 minutes when a blatant handball by McNamara was completely ignored! It seems all referees are determined that we will never get a penalty again. Most Clarets fans cant remember the last one, it was afterall 54 games ago now. If we did get one, there would be a rush of St John's Ambulance men onto the pitch to revive all our fainted players!
What is the betting if we ever get a penalty we will miss it?
Anyway Friend undeterred decided it was time to book somebody and so Gudjonsson went in the book after 27 minutes for a foul on Keogh. It would appear the referee has a reputation for only booking away players (Oh great!)
One down,one in the book and no blatant penalty given! Wonderful. What could possibly be worse?
That was answered on 40 minutes when Stephen Ward drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom-right of the goal from the centre of the penalty area.
That was it then, 2-0 at half-time and a team playing with no confidence or luck walking off the pitch looking for inspiration with the Clarets faithful fearing the worst for the second-half.
The expression 'game of two halves' is often used but one suspects none of the Clarets fans would have expected that to be applied to our team based on our first half performance.
Steve Cotterill though shook the pack up at half-time with Lafferty coming on for the lacklustre Jones and Chris McCann coming on for the equally lacklustre and booked Joey Gudjonsson. Lafferty took up a slightly odd role in midfield rather than attempt some sort of 4-3-3. Nobody will know what the manager said to the lads at half-time but it seemed to work and they suddenly looked far more lively and determined. This effort was rewarded on 52 minutes when Chris McCann gave the Clarets some hope after scoring from 18 yards from a pass by Akinbiyi.
The Clarets sustained the pressure for the rest of the match with the Wolves looking to hang on in the final few minutes. McCarthy was clearly worried and made a number of tactical substitutions to bolster up his defence. Craddock came on finally for Kightly after 65 minutes although they persisted with McNamara at left back even though this was clearly not his position! Bothroyd also came on for Keogh after 77 minutes
Friend was determined to have more say in this match, mainly by talking to our players and refusing to talk to Wolves. Lafferty went in the book after 51 minutes and another booking saw Duff pick up a yellow after 68 minutes play.There was also an appeal for another possible penalty after Henry appeared to handle. Of course we didnt get it, although this one was not as obvious as the one in the first half. This referee also had the annoying knack of letting the Wolves players kick the ball away on numerous occasions to waste time in the final few minutes. If we had done the same and been winning 2-1 at the time, you can guarantee we would have had more bookings.
Our best chance for the equaliser came on 86 minutes.Wade Elliott swung over a left wing corner after some sustained pressure, but Steve Caldwell's header hit the underside of the crossbar much to the disbelief of our captain.
Foster came on for the booked,Duff after 88 minutes and Wolves made one final change in the 90th minute with Davies replacing Keogh. The match fnished with Wolves under the cosh with the Clarets looking most likely to score.
So a much brighter performance from the Clarets in the second half and one can only think that with a fairer referee the result may well have been different. However, the weaknesses and lack of fitness are still there for all to see with Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Gray again failing to shine with underpar performnances yet again.
It seems we have to take heart from the second half display though and carry that into our next game this Tuesday night at home to Leicester.
Burnley: Coyne: Harley, Duff (Foster 88), McGreal, Caldwell, Elliott, Gudjonsson (McCann 46), J O'Connor, Jones (Lafferty 46), Gray, Akinbiyi.
Subs: Thomas, Djemba-Djemba
Booked: Gudjonsson 28, Lafferty 51, Duff 68
Wolves: Murray, Collins, Olofinjana, McNamara, Henry, Edwards, Potter, Ward, McIndoe (Bothroyd 78), Kightly (Craddock 66), Keogh (Davies 90).
Subs: Clapham, Budtz
Ref: K Friend
He was Man of the Match by some distance with most Clarets rating him in the 7-9 region,