3rd March 2007
The Clarets continue to try and find that elusive win after a 1-1 draw against Palace at Turf Moor. The sad fact remains though that despite a well-earned draw with plenty of chances to beat Palace, we still find ourselves now with no win in 16 matches. The point means we are now 18th on 41 points. A little bit of consolation was the fact that a lot of the teams below us did not gain any advantage so we are now six points clear of the relegation zone and 9-10 points clear of the bottom two clubs, Southend and Leeds. We also have a game in hand over these clubs and still have to play them both away with Southend the next match up. If anybody is still edgey about the dreaded R-word, they can also take comfort in the fact that our goal difference is significantly better than all the clubs below us by some distance. We have conceded only 2 goals more than we have scored whereas the others have conceded between fifteen and twenty six more than they have scored. Lets hope we dont get drawn into a relegation dogfight but if we do that goal difference could well be worth an extra place or two.
So another point. This wont be enough to stop the increasing calls from a vocal minority of the the fans for Steve Cotterill to go but we had plenty of chances in this game and during certain spells of the match, particularly leading up to our equalising goal and during the second half we put together some entertaining stuff. However these spells were neither often enough nor long enough.
The Clarets lined up for this match with the news that McCann had recovered from his injury and would start with Michael Duff also returning to the starting line-up. The luckless Wayne Thomas however had not recovered from his injury. He had been stretchered off, along with McCann in our last match against Colchester at Layer Road. Kyle Lafferty of course was sitting out this game thanks to a one match suspension after picking up five yellows
Burnley therefore lined up as follows for the start of this battle:
Coyne, Harley, McGreal, Caldwell, Duff, Elliott, Gudjonsson, J O'Connor, McCann, Gray, Akinbiyi.
Subs: Djemba-Djemba, Spicer, Foster, Jones, G O'Connor
Duff took up the right back role and Harley, found himself operating in an unusual role on the left side of midfield, in front of Chris McCann.
Referee, Ildeton commenced proceedings with the Clarets faithful praying and hoping for something to shout about.
The unanswered prayers, as in many matches recently have raised the continual question as to whether there is a God and so it proved again. The Clarets were simply underpar and lacklustre in the opening minutes of this game and we were punished on 15 minutes thanks to an awful mistake by Danny Coyne. Clinton Morrison was allowed to loop a header over the advancing keeper into the net after Palace keeper, Kiraly had managed to get the ball to somehow bounce over the whole of the Clarets defence.
Danny Coyne looked unusually off form throughout this match and it is probably lucky he didnt have too much to save throughout the rest of the match. Nevertheless this lacklustre performance from Coyne did raise questions in a number of the fans minds as to why the transfer listed Brian Jensen was not being given the chance to play or even feature on the bench. There has clearly been some disagreement or fall out between the manager and 'The Beast' who is still transfer listed at his own request following the loan signing of Pollitt. The keeper situation is certainly one that will need to be addressed in the Summer if not earlier.
However back to the match. So 1-0 down with the Clarets fans fearing the worse. How would the lads react? Could they comeback?
We actually gave Kiraly something to think about for the first time after 34 minutes when Ade Akinbiyi, after a little bit of crafty footwork saw his shot tipped over the bar to bring the first save from the Palace keeper.
This by now was our best spell of the first half and this was rewarded four minutes later when Ade Akinbiyi finally got his first league goal for the Clarets since arriving for the second time in January.
Duff picked up the ball from Gray and put in a superb cross with pinpoint accuracy to Akinbiyi, who headed home neatly. You could see his relief as he ran to the 'The Longside' to the cheering faithful. Let us now hope this is a turning point for Ade and we can see a return to the form and goalscoring he displayed during his first spell with the Clarets.
The teams therefore went in 1-1 at half-time with some encouraging signs from the Clarets following the equaliser.
The Clarets started the second-half looking like they meant business. In the first minute alone Gray brought out a good save from Kiraly and if Ade Akinbiyi had managed to make better contact with an header from eight yards out, Kiraly would have been struggling to save it.
This was probably our best spell of the match but we just could not put away any of the chances and as the game progressed you just sensed the match slipping away again to an inevitable draw.
The referee had a fairly quiet game and there didnt appear to be any controversial incidents. Certainly no penalties to debate, so both teams continue their long runs of matches without being awarded one.
James O'Connor and Gudjonsson picked up a yellow each evening it up with Palace players Watson and Scowcroft who also found themselves in the book.
Some late Clarets substitutions did not have any effect. Steve Jones in particular doesnt look like he's up for it at the moment seeming to lack confidence and motivation. He had 20 minutes to prove himself after coming on for McCann but it didnt really happen for him. Garreth O'Connor also replaced Gray after 90 minutes so had little time to impress or have any influence on the match which by now was heading for the draw and another disappointing result.
So another point and still no elusive win but what are the pointers from this match?
Well one Pointer was Ray who came on for the half-time draw. The former, sixties player no doubt brought back happy memories for those fans of a certain age present at yesterday's match. They must have been wondering how and when we were ever going to get out of this rut and return to those former glory days in the top flight.
A point was simply not good enough but it shouldnt cloud the fact that there were some things to cheer about in this match. We created far more chances than in recent games and we saw Ade Akinbiyi break his League 'duck'. It wont be enough to keep some of the Clarets wolves at bay calling for the head of Cotterill but I have a feeling a lot of those fans may be made to eat humble pe next season after this torrid spell is put behind us and we see all our players firing on all cylinders.
Burnley: Coyne, Harley, McGreal, Caldwell, Duff, Elliott, Gudjonsson, J O'Connor, McCann (Jones 80), Gray (G O'Connor 90), Akinbiyi.
Subs Not Used: Djemba-Djemba, Spicer, Foster
Booked: Gudjonsson 74, J O'Connor 86
Palace: Kiraly, Lawrence, Hudson, Cort, Scowcroft, Freedman (Grabban 64), Morrison, Soares, Butterfield, Fletcher, Spence (Watson 67).
Subs Not Used: Ward, Speroni, Martin
Booked: Scowcroft 21, Watson 83
There were also significant improvements by both Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Gray although they are still not completely back to the form we are used to seeing.
Vital Burnley FC award the Man of the Match on balance to Steven Caldwell who continues to be a rock in defence and looking every bit a Captain