Burnley point to 10 men
22nd December 2007 @ 3pm
The Clarets travelled to 6th placed Ipswich yesterday aware that only one club this season (Barnsley) had managed to come away with any points from Portman Road.
That was also only one point in a record that read 10 wins and one draw for the Suffolk club. By half-time with the score 0-0, the Clarets must have thought they had no chance of being the second club following the red-card dismissal of John Spicer for a two-footed challenge on Walters. Most fans probably thought the same and were dreading the second-half.
The 10 bravehearts in the second half though somehow survived the onslaught and miraculously kept out the Tractor Boys to ensure they held on for a point in a 0-0 draw, maintaining their impressive away form.
We have to thank some awesome perfomances in defence with Kiraly in top form and the back four, notably Caldwell (playing his first match in ten games) earning their crust in no uncertain terms.
We have now had four wins, three draws and no defeats in the last seven consecutive matches on the road. You have to go back to October 6th for our last defeat away from home when we were beaten 2-1 by Cardiff, a remarkable run under three managers (Cotterill, Davis and Coyle).
This potentially is our best performance on the road considering the circumstances and the point sees us nicely placed in 9th place still on 33 points but only three points behind the 6th placed club (co-incidentally also Ipswich )and with two Christmas home games coming up against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day and Bristol City next Saturday.
Never has there been a better time to get our home form back on track which has been dreadful and almost a complete reverse of our away form. The last time we won at home was against Norwich on the 23rd October, since which we have lost four matches and drawn two.
The trouble is we are going to have to do it with a mini-crisis in midfield. Alan Mahon is still out injured, Gudjonsson and McCann are sitting out suspensions for red-cards and they are now joined by John Spicer who will miss the next three matches. Graham Alexander, who has played in midfield, also picked up his fifth yellow card one minute before Spicer was sent off yesterday and now faces a one-match ban against Bristol City. Garreth O'Connor found himself in the sixteen for the first time this season yesterday although did not feature but never has there been a better time for him to make his mark and I expect to see him play before the January window opens on New Year's Day.
James O'Connor also had his first start yesterday and looks likely to feature prominently in the next few matches.
Owen Coyle in fact made three changes to the team that suffered a home defeat to local rivals, Preston in the last match.
McCann of course was suspended along with Gudjonnson and Mahon was out injured with a thigh problem, so James O' Connor was in the starting eleven and he partnered John Spicer who also returned for the first time after injury. Captain, Steven Caldwell returned to the back four at the expense of Stephen Jordan who was named on the bench. As previously mentioned, this was Caldwell's first game in ten matches following his torn tendon injury and what a return it would prove to be!
The team therefore lined up as follows:
Kiraly, Alexander, Unsworth, Caldwell, Harley, Lafferty, J O'Connor, Spicer, Elliott, Gray, Blake.
Subs: Akinbiyi, Jones, Jensen, G O'Connor, Jordan.
Cocky Ipswich confident of their home form lined up as follows:
N Alexander, Wright, De Vos, Bruce, Sito, Haynes, Miller, Garvan, Walters, Counago, Lee.
Subs: Supple, Wilnis, Williams, Clarke, Rhodes
The Clarets looked to have a difficult task therefore trying to keep out Counago and Lee. Alan Lee, the former Claret has been a particular thorn in our side over the years scoring five goals against us.
Referee, Phil Dowd got the match underway and the Clarets were instantly put under pressure with Kiraly pulling out a breathtaking save after only two minutes to deny Lee. A slip by Harley allowed Walters to cross for Lee to try and head home from six yards but somehow Kiraly got a hand to the ball.
The Clarets then got into their stride and Lafferty came close after 12 minutes. John Spicer found Wade Elliott. The winger put in a delightful cross but Lafferty's far post header was a few inches too high with Andy Gray in close proximity.
Tommy Miller then came close for the home side after his thunderous 30 yard shot hit the crossbar.The Clarets were then awarded a corner. A rehearsed short corner led to Elliott back heeling to find Blake and from his cross into the six yard box, the Ipswich defence managed to hack the ball away with the Clarets strike force ready to pounce.
Ipswich at this point though were looking the most dangerous especially down the flanks and they came close to breaking the deadlock in the 37th minute. Alan Lee found Walters and his left-wing cross found the head of Pablo Counago. Kiraly saved the day again though for the Clarets parrying the ball at full stretch having changed direction.
The last few minutes were played out with some tension between the sides as things got a bit ugly with the Clarets coming off the worst.
Graham Alexander was adjudged to be protesting too much following a debatable free kick awarded to Ipswich and picked up his fifth yellow card and a one match ban. Then disaster struck when on the stroke of half-time, Burnley were reduced to ten men after Dowd showed a red card to John Spicer for a two-footed tackle on Walters.
This decision was again controversial. It would appear two local radio stations thought different things. Phil Bird and Clarets World thought it was a fair decision whilst 2br we understand thought otherwise.
We are going to have to be careful in this department though, with McCann also red-carded in the previous match for a similar incident.
The Refs are hot on this dismeanour at the moment although some of the harder footballers of the sixties and seventies will be questioning these mamby-pamby player pampering rules.
Oh well, its a rule and we have to abide by it but this decision effectively killed the game and forced the Clarets into a defensive role for the whole of the second half as we came under continual pressure.
The Clarets started the second half with only Gray up front as Blake went deeper on the right, with Elliott moving into central midfield. How we survived I do not know, but I dont think Alexander in the Ipswich goal had anything to do for 99% of the second half.
Kiraly and the back-four stood proud and firm though and mopped up everything Ipswich could muster. Caldwell and Unsworth were particularly awesome.
Some fresh legs for Burnley saw Jones replace Blake after 60 minutes with Akinbiyi replacing Gray 10 minutes later.
Ipswich could not change anything though even with their later substitutions and as the final whistle went, there was only one team ready to celebrate.
One relieved Clarets manager,Owen Coyle had this to say about the result:
'Ipswich have a remarkable home record.
'To get a point here in normal circumstances would have been a good result but to do it after having a man sent off was magnificent.
'I think we showed real resilience and everyone learned a lot about the spirit in this team.'
Ipswich manager, Jim Magilton seemed to agree:
'Had it stayed 11 versus 11, I could only have seen us winning. It affected us more than them.
'They got a lot of men behind the ball and showed the resilience and character to get a point.
Ipswich: Alexander, Wright, Bruce, De Vos, Sito (Wilnis 20), Walters, Miller, Garvan, Haynes (Williams 74), Counago, Lee (Rhodes 85).
Subs Not Used: Supple, Clarke.
Burnley: Kiraly, Alexander, Unsworth, Caldwell, Harley, Elliott, James O'Connor, Spicer, Lafferty, Blake (Jones 60), Gray (Akinbiyi 70).
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Garreth O'Connor, Jordan.
Sent Off: Spicer (45).
Booked: James O'Connor, Alexander, Elliott.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).