Date:Sunday July 29 2007
28th July 2007 3pm
In the final pre-season friendly on home soil before the lads set off for Austria, the Clarets put in another good performance in a 2-0 victory against struggling League 1 side, Leeds United. It`s almost impossible to say Leeds in League 1 without getting a dual sense of smugness and disbelief. However to give them some credit, their fans did turn up in high numbers and their team did not disgrace themselves by any means. The official attendance was 5,290 and it was estimated about 1500 of them bravely crossed the Pennines to watch a team in the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. You have to admit that`s a dedicated following for a club having struggled with administration and the shenanigans of Ken Bates, KMPG and Football League, a club having sold a number of its key players and been unable to bring in replacements and a club still with an uncertain future.
One of those players that have left Elland Road is of course Robbie Blake. It may have been hoped by many that we would see the lad play against his former club, but his thigh strain must still be playing up and he was not named in the squad by Steve Cotterill. Two other players missing out were Thomas, who tweaked his back during training and Jones who has also picked up a groin injury. Kyle Lafferty however did return to the starting line-up after a couple of injuries in recent friendly games. By the end of the match all those named in the squad featured at some point in the game. So we started like this:
Kiraly, Foster, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Berisha, J. O'Connor, McCann, Harley, Gray, Lafferty. Subs - Jensen (GK), Elliott, Spicer, Mahon, Gudjonsson, Akinbiyi, Rodriguez.
And we finished like this:
Kiraly (Jensen 46), Foster, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Berisha (Elliott 46), J. O'Connor (Gudjonsson 46), McCann (Spicer 46), Harley (Mahon 46), Gray (Rodriguez 72), Lafferty (Akinbiyi 46).
Leeds used to have about 40 players in the squad compared to our 20 and the back of the Proggy is now quite telling with the once 'Mighty Leeds` now having only 22 players to call upon, in effect about the same as we do. One of them, Cresswell as we speak has agreed terms with and looks set to be joining Hull thus adding to the list of key players having left the club in the close season including Blake, Healy and Nicholls.
In this match, for Leeds it would be a story of two performances in particular-one good, one bad! The most impressive Leeds player on the pitch that caused the defence some problems was Jemaine Beckford. He looks quite a handful, and if Leeds are on a selling spree maybe this is one player Steve Cotterill should think about. Leeds had a number of chances to score in this match and all of them seemed to be fluffed by one man, Tiesor Kandol. It`s quite clear this fellow didn`t practice his skills on a farm when he was a kid, even the Leeds fans on various message boards are adamant he`s the worse player to have worn a Leeds shirt in recent times and couldn`t hit a barn door from five yards!
Anyway enough of Leeds how did the Clarets fair once the match got underway?
The match got off to a lively start and it was new boy and Albanian International, Besart Berisha who impressed early on with some nice touches on the right wing.
Andy Gray actually soon had the ball in the back of the net after only three minutes but was ajudged offside by the linesman.
Kyle Lafferty partnering Gray upfront also came close a couple of minutes later following a good pass from Jordan but Leeds keeper Scott Loach parried the shot and caught it in the air.
That man Beckford, a continual thorn to the Red Rose side after 7 minutes brought the first save of the match from Gabor Kiraly. Tresor Kandol then donned his Joker`s suit and shot wide with all the Clarets defence behind him.
Matt Heath however after 15 minutes handled the ball following a Harley cross and a penalty was awarded, neatly put away by Gray to put the Clarets 1-0 up. Yes, another penalty! Is this a sign of things to come after a season debating the lack of them?
After that goal, all the pressure seemed to be coming from Leeds. They had numerous chances without really looking dangerous.
David Prutton`s shot from distance after 19 minutes was no problem for Kiraly and Kandol continued to amuse through his lack of shooting ability a few moments later.
Besart Berisha came close after 25 minutes following a header from Foster.
After 36 minutes a shot from Jermain Beckford went over Kiraly but luckily rebounded back off the post.
A free kick from Alan Thompson came close followed by a Clarets counter attack but Berisha squandered the chance.
It was that thorn, Beckford in the final minute of the first half who then hit a spectacular volley but the shot just went over the bar with Kiraly beaten. That was the final action of the first-half and the Clarets left the pitch still maintaining their 1-0 lead.
Steve Cotterill changed things round significantly for the start of the second half with Jensen, Akinbiyi, Spicer, Mahon, Elliott, and Gudjonsson replacing Kiraly, Lafferty, Berisha, Harley, O'Connor, and McCann.
Akinbiyi nearly scored with a shot after only 48 minutes but the ball skimmed across the Leeds goal to safety.
The jester Tresor Kandol then beat the offside trap, but decided Jensen was a bit bigger than a barn door and hit it straight at him!
Moments later and the Clarets fans were ecstatic as we doubled our lead with Ade Akinbiyi continuing to show improved confidence and skill with another goal
Ade managed to get in front of a defender following a cross from Wade Elliot and easily put away his third goal of the pre-season matches.
The Clarets then dominated for the rest of the match as both managers made changes to their team in the last 20 minutes. The last 15 minutes did not really see much action as the game fizzled out with most of the Leeds fans deciding to head for the exits.
So it was 2-0, the final score and another creditable performance from the lads. Our fifth friendly and still no defeat augers well for the start of the season on the 11th August but there is the little matter of that Austrian trip first with two more friendly matches to play this Tuesday and Friday. The good news is that there are no fresh injury worries after the Leeds match and Steve Cotterill must be encouraged by this latest performance especially the midfield passing and the strikers` performances. He did say he thought we were lucky to come away without conceding today hinting he still has some issues in defence to resolve although Thomas was out of action today.
Steve must also be delighted about the continual good performances from Joey Gudjonsson in these pre-season games. He got quite a lot of stick last season and did seem under par. He was judged by many to be man of the match yesterday and this is very encouraging for the season ahead
As the lads jet out to Austria, fans are reminded about one change. Burnley's friendly with Apollon Limassol will now take place on Friday, August 3 at Bad Goisern (39 miles south of Salzburg) with a kick-off at 5pm.not 6pm as originally announced.
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Date:Sunday July 29 2007
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