You reap what you sow?
Often, life isn`t fair. We only have to look at the Carling Cup Semi-Final ties to see that. Yesterday, however, Clarets` fans faith in their team, in football, perhaps in life itself, must have been restored after a late, late goal sent them home happy with another three points in the bag. The win saw Burnley climb back above Swansea to eight in the table.
In truth, the first 30 minutes of the match were as forgettable as you could ever wish to not see. There was very little goalmouth incident, and the visitors looked poor to say the least. The time wasting started early, probably with the first goal kick of the game, although I am sure that Phil Parkinson would say differently. The only half-chance, somewhat ironically, came from Burnley`s own defensive indecision - again (despite the absence of Clark Carlisle from the sixteen) - but thankfully the shot was lifted just over the bar with Jensen struggling.
The last fifteen minutes came to life with Burnley having a few half-chances, but the bottom-placed side took the lead after a poor clearance from Caldwell fell into the path of a Charlton striker. He then managed to pass across the box to incoming midfielder Nicky Bailey, who made no mistake from all of eight yards out, firing the ball through a helpless Jensen`s legs.
Overall, a disappointing first half performance, but one in which a below-par Clarets were the better team, and Burnley must surely improve after the break? At half-time I mentioned that I wasn`t convinced by Elliott playing in central midfield, and hoped that Mr. Coyle might change things round a bit at half-time. Thankfully, I was to get my wish, and the winger played on the wing in the second half. Surprisingly, things improved - who`d have thought it?!
The second forty-five minutes saw Burnley play better, but not much. We created more chances, and still looked the better team, but things weren`t quite working as well as they sometimes do. Passes were missing their targets; players didn`t quite have the energy at times to make the runs they usually do. (This was especially true of Chris McCann, who I thought was disappointing today.) We had a couple of half shouts for a penalty, but with our ground not being called Deepdale, and not playing in white, we didn`t get either of them.)
We made our three substitutions: Kalvenes off for McDonald, with Alexander switching from holding midfielder to left back; Eagles replaced by Thompson, and Gudjonsson came on for McCann. The first two were to have a big impact on the game, and I actually hope all three start against West Brom on Tuesday night.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Thommo, who someone told me at half-time "doesn`t score enough goals", slid in from all of a yard or two out to bring Burnley level. Then the 4th official showed that the referee HAD been making a note about the time wasting and raised the board to show SIX minutes of added time. I thought it would be at least five, and so was not surprised. Parkinson later complained about it - clearly he had forgotten that there was a goal, five substitutions, plus at least two times the trainer came on. That makes 8 stoppages at 30 seconds each, which by my maths makes four minutes without taking into account their shameful cheating tactics.
Four minutes into those six, Big Kev made his way into the right hand side of the box, and in an almost identical fashion, the same striker as before - he doesn`t score enough, as I said - slid in to send the Clarets faithful into raptures. It had looked an unlikely victory, indeed for much of the game, it had looked an unlikely point, but it was fully deserved in the end. Perhaps a case of "everything comes to he who waits"?
Jensen - 6
Williams - 7
Caldwell - 7
Duff - 7
Kalvanes - 6
Alexander - 6
Eagles - 6
McCann - 5
Elliott - 7
Blake - 8 MOM
Paterson - 7
McDonald - 7
Thompson - 8
Gudjonsson - 6 or N/A depending how you feel!
My man of the match was Robbie Blake - he continues to roll back the years of late, and long may it continue. I think a few need a rest: Eagles, Pato and McCann would benefit in my opinion, despite Pato having a fairly good game. (Just HOW angry is he, by the way!?) I also thought Williams made a promising debut given the circumstances, and the back four looked more solid than in previous weeks. (Not THAT difficult, I suppose!) Elliott looked far happier out wide than at centre mid, and I hope he starts there against the Baggies.
My team would be:
Jensen, Kalvenes, Caldwell, Duff, Alexander, Gudjonsson, Elliott, McDonald, Blake, Thompson and Rodriguez. (I am assuming that Williams is ineligible)