Gray sent to Coventry?
19th January 2008 @ 3pm
Well it appears Andy Gray may have been sent to Coventry after all by the Burnley fans. The former Clarets hero became villain in less than a day after it emerged that he couldn`t be bothered to play in the Coventry match because he wanted to play for Hughie Green`s Charlton to 'Double his Money and try and get Rich`.
The ability of players and their agents to hold the managers and Boards of less wealthy football clubs to ransom these days is nothing short of scandalous, but if the system is in place you can`t really blame Andy Gray at 30 trying to go for it. By the same token you can`t blame the fans for being a tadge angry at a player who we rescued from obscurity suddenly deciding to stuff any loyalty to the Clarets and refuse to play in the game involving a trip away to the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry.
So Andy having been sent to Coventry anyway, I hope you enjoyed the fact that we did fine without you mate and came away with three excellent points from the Ricoh Arena in an impressive 2-1 victory with Ade Akinbiyi and Robbie Blake getting the goals.
This victory keeps us in the pack for a play-offs place and we are now in joint 9th place on 40 points with Wolves, only four points behind the sixth placed club, Charlton (Watch out Gray!)
The match was a thrilling game with both sides attacking throughout and there was certainly plenty to talk about with Coventry claiming a cast-iron penalty and with the Clarets for once being involved in a sending-off that didn`t affect one of our players as 10-men Coventry battled to stay alive following the dismissal of Kevin Kyle.
The Clarets made three changes to the starting eleven that faced Plymouth in our previous game at Turf Moor.
Ade Akinbiyi took the lead role up front to replace the now departed Gray. Chris McCann returned after a one match ban and Robbie Blake as expected came in. Caldwell was sitting out a one match ban for a fifth yellow, so David Unsworth retained his place. These changes meant that Steve Jones, probably about to go out on loan to Crewe next week, was relegated to the bench.
Clarke Carlisle was still sidelined with his hamstring injury but there was a welcome return for Alan Mahon who was named on the bench.
The sixteen therefore were as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Varga, Unsworth, Harley, J O'Connor, Gudjonsson, McCann, Akinbiyi, Blake, Elliott.
Subs: Kiraly, Jones, Spicer, Mahon, Jordan
Coventry suffering in recent times from an embargo on transfer activity and having particular problems in the keeper department made an amazing six changes to their team and it was Greek goalkeeper and former Hartlepool player, Konstantopolous that was given the task between the sticks of keeping the Clarets out. Clarets may recall this keeper; he played in the Cup match against us a couple of seasons back when Pool embarrassed Burnley in a victory at the Turf.
Coventry therefore lined-up as follows:
Konstantopolous, De Zeeuw, Ward, Doyle, Kyle, Osbourne, Mifsud, Tabb, Gray, Hughes, Davis.
Subs: Hughes, Adebola, Simpson, Borrowdale, Thornton.
1121 Clarets fans made it to the cold, windswept concrete jungle that is the Ricoh Arena. The massive stadium rattling with a total gate of 17,347 supporters.
Referee Eddie Ilderton from Tyne & Wear got the match underway with the Clarets attacking in a 4:3:3 formation, Elliott and Blake supporting Ade Akinbiyi. This tended to change to 4:5:1 during periods when the Clarets were defending leaving Ade up front.
Brian Jensen, preferred to Kiraly after keeping a clean sheet in the previous game against Plymouth was soon proving his stripes in the third minute, getting a hand to Michael Mifsud's powerful shot. Mifsud was going to be the player causing the Clarets the most problems all afternoon and this was just his first attempt.
It was the Clarets though who took the lead in the 10th minute.
Blake found Elliott on the wing and he spied Akinbiyi rushing in. Ade thundered his shot into the roof of the net with the ball deflecting off Sky Blues keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos on the way in. Akinbiyi is now six goals to the good this season and considering he has spent most of the time on the bench, that is some achievement. Now that Andy Gray has departed, he will never have a better chance to claim his position and endear himself even more to the Clarets faithful. Let`s hope he gets back to the situation he enjoyed during his first spell with the Clarets.
The Coventry defence before and after the goal seemed at sixes and sevens and the home crowd did not seem happy, with keeper, Konstantopoulos coming in for particular criticism.
Coventry came straight back at the Clarets though with Jensen coming to the rescue again, easily saving and holding a Mifsud header.
A stunner of a shot from Robbie Blake then tested the Greek keeper hitting Konstantopoulos in the face but sadly for the Clarets, Coventry equalised in the 25th minute after a bizarre sequence of defensive blunders that lead to the Burnley back four along with Jensen being unable to clear their lines.
An initial shot from danger man Mifsud was blocked by Jensen, and then a series of attempts to clear the ball finished up with Doyle scoring from close range.
The Clarets came back fighting though and Elliott then went on an amazing 40-yeard run after 30 minutes, rounding a number of defenders on the way towards goal. He hit the ball well in an attempt to score but it was directly at the keeper. If that had gone in, it would have been the goal of the season but alas it wasn`t to be.
That man Mifsud again tested Jensen, this time with a thunderous 25-yard shot bringing out a superb save from the Dane diving low to his right.
A cross from Jon Harley was then controversially adjudged to have hit a Coventry defender and from Blake's resulting corner to the far post, Unsworth brought out a parried save from the Sky Blues keeper.
An entertaining first half came to a close therefore with both sides showing continual attacking flair and the only negatives that could be laid at the door of the Clarets was their inability on a number of occasions to clear their lines in defence, one incident which of course led to the Coventry equaliser.
So 1-1 at half-time and as both sides marched out for the start of the second half, no changes were evident in the Clarets line-up.
The second half started a little bit quieter but that was all about to change when Coventry`s Kevin Kyle, already picking up a yellow in the first half for an elbow on Harley, took off like a flying bus straight into Alexander flooring the Scottish International. Iderton had no option to send off Kyle, now already being booed by the home crowd let alone the Clarets for such a nasty and stupid foul.
There was some debate as to whether it should be a second yellow offence or a straight red card, but the referee decided the first option was the fairer of the two but it didn`t really matter, Coventry were down to ten men.
The Clarets could now afford to relax a little and indeed showed their intentions by moving into a more attacking mode with Alan Mahon coming on for James O`Connor giving the more attacking midfielder the chance to shine in his first match since recovering from a persistent hamstring injury.
To give Coventry their due though, they were not about to capitulate and continued to put us under pressure on the break despite being down to ten men.
Mifsud again got in a low shot but again Jensen was equal to it. After Akinbiyi came close from a McCann cross, it was the pacey Mifsud again who pounced on an Alexander mistake, rounding Unsworth and heading for a certain goal in the 65th minute. Unsworth however had other ideas, recovered well and put in a superb tackle to deny the Maltese Falcon. The tackle had the home crowd in uproar demanding a penalty. It quite clearly wasn`t one though and the referee agreed.
Just one minute later and the Clarets fans were in ecstasy as the Clarets again went in front.
Gudjonsson took the ball off a Coventry a defender and chasing forward with the ball there was now three Clarets against one defender. It was Akinbiyi who found Gudjonsson with a delightful pass and the Icelandic midfielder coolly passed the ball to Blake who made no mistake from 12 yards with Konstantopoulos hopelessly beaten.
2-1 Clarets but still Coventry wouldn`t lie down.
John Spicer on 75 minutes and Steve Jones on 81 minutes came on to replace Joey Gudjonsson and a tired-looking Akinbiyi respectively. Steve Jones in particular looked lively, perhaps not too keen on a move to his former club Crewe after all? He almost made it 3-1 too.
Mifsud (Who else?) tried a powerful shot from distance but to no avail as the clock ticked down. However the Clarets held on as the final whistle went to record our first win at the Ricoh Arena with another three points safely in the bag after another impressive away performance.
Coventry: Konstantopoulos, Osbourne, De Zeeuw, Ward, Davis (Stephen Hughes 82), Tabb (Simpson 87), Doyle, Michael Hughes, Gray (Adebola 69), Kyle, Mifsud.
Subs Not Used: Borrowdale, Thornton.
Sent Off: Kyle (56).
Booked: Kyle, Ward, De Zeeuw.
Goals: Doyle 26.
Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Varga, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, James O'Connor (Mahon 59), McCann, Gudjonsson (Spicer 75), Blake, Akinbiyi (Jones 81).
Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Jordan.
Booked: Alexander, Blake, Harley, Varga.
Goals: Akinbiyi 10, Blake 68.
Ref: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).