Clarets Pilgrims Progress
12th January 2008 @ 3pm
The Clarets finally banished a few worrying statistics to the history bin when they defeated Plymouth Argyle 1-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday thanks to a magical goal from Robbie Blake in the second half.
We had gone six games without a win home or away (seven if you count the FA Cup game against Arsenal), we had not won at home since October when we beat Norwich and more worrying for Owen Coyle, had not one once at home since the new gaffer joined last November. His home record until yesterday read P: 6 W: 0 D: 3 L: 3
My own personal statistic of only seeing them win once at Turf Moor this season in the opening match of the season against WBA (I couldn`t make the Norwich match) was also beginning to wear a bit thin!
Thankfully though that`s now all history (as stated above) following the defeat of Plymouth in front of a crowd of an impressive 14,162 fans. Not many Pilgrims either made the journey up from Devon so maybe that display against Arsenal in the FA Cup had some effect.
The Clarets had still a number of injury concerns and suspension problems. Alan Mahon and Clarke Carlisle were still sidelined with their injury problems and Ade Akinbiyi also missed out after tweaking his back. Kyle Lafferty red-carded against Arsenal sat out his first game in his four match ban and Chris McCann was also suspended for this match after picking up his fifth yellow card in the match away to Blackpool. David Unsworth however was now available and selected in the starting eleven.
Robbie Blake had also been doubtful after not training all week through injury but Coyle explained he was keen to play and looked fit on the Friday so was named on the bench. One other surprise change saw Brain Jensen get a game in the starting eleven for the first time since the Blackpool home match back in September with Kiraly having to make do on the bench.
The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Varga, Unsworth, James O'Connor, Gudjonsson, Harley, Elliott, Gray, Jones
Subs: Kiraly, Garreth O'Connor, Spicer, Jordan, Blake
Plymouth looked a little light up front having just sold their impressive striker, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to Wolves in midweek. The Pilgrims however did sign France Under-21 midfielder Yoann Folly from Sheffield Wednesday in midweek and he found himself named on the bench.
Referee Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester) got the match underway and it was the Clarets who were first out of the blocks with the visitors looking nervous in the first 15 minutes.
After only two minutes of play, a shot from Elliott dipped towards the goal but the ball landed on the top of the net much to the relief of Pilgrim`s keeper, Luke McCormick. With 17 minutes gone, it was the lively Elliott again who put in a cross but Gray just couldn`t get on the end of it.
In the 26th minute, a characteristic thunderous shot from Gudjonsson from 30 yards dropped just over the bar.
Elliott was causing all sorts of problems to the Plymouth defence and on the half-hour mark; he got to the by-line, but Gudjonsson put the shot wide from his cross. One minute later and another fantastic pin-point cross from Elliott this time found Steve Jones but his weak header was put wide.
Plymouth had been subdued for most of the first-half with the Clarets having far greater possession and looking most likely to score but Gary Sawyer tried his luck with an effort from 40 yards on 35 minutes but it floated harmlessly high.
As the half-time whistle went the Clarets would have been the happier of the two teams although the match so far had not been too exciting.
In the second-half the Clarets again had most of the possession but a number of chances seemed to go begging from the wings as crosses skirted across the goalmouth with nobody being able to get a foot on them.
A shot from Andy Gray though was palmed away by McCormick but Jones was prevented from scoring by the defence.
Jones did then get the ball in the net on 56 minutes but was adjudged offside in what seemed a fair decision.
Owen Coyle one minute later brought on Robbie Blake for Steve Jones in what would prove an inspired decision.
It was Elliott, on fire all match that again got into the action in the 67th minute and skilfully got the better of Lee Hodges near the corner flag and put in a delightful cross. Robbie Blake made no mistake and thundered the ball past the Pilgrims keeper to put the Clarets deservedly 1-0 up.
It was Blake again who then almost doubled the lead on 71 minutes when his 40 yards stunning shot was well saved by McCormick.
The Clarets then continued to press for that second goal. Alexander following a corner tested the keeper from the edge of the box and brought out an excellent save.
It was the Clarets who then always looked the most likely to score as the clock ticked down, but despite a number of half-chances that second goal would prove elusive and the matched finished 1-0.
So three points at last at home and Burnley now find themselves in 11th place on 37 points and now only four points off sixth-placed club, Crystal Palace with all still to play for!
A pleased Owen Coyle said
'It's a monkey off the lads' backs and we've got to make sure we take that on and turn out some more victories at Turf Moor.
'The fans again were great and we're delighted to reward them for their loyalty and the support they've shown.
'We passed the ball well, put numerous crosses into the box and had chances.'
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Varga, Unsworth, James O'Connor, Gudjonsson (Spicer 90), Harley, Elliott, Gray, Jones (Blake 56).
Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Garreth O'Connor, Jordan.
Goals: Blake 66.
Plymouth: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Sawyer, Hodges, Summerfield, Nalis (Folly 75), Abdou (Smith 84), Halmosi, Jutkiewicz (Fallon 75), Easter.
Subs Not Used: Larrieu, Moult.
Ref: Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester).