The Clarets came away with a very disappointing draw in a goalless affair against Bristol City at Turf Moor on Saturday. A point was good enough to keep us in eighth spot though and we now have 12 points from 8 games but we really should have won this match against a struggling side and this result was definitely two points lost rather than a point gained.
In the first half we looked very poor and seemed to be suffering from the after effects of the Bolton game. It was a dull first 45 minutes against a side that clearly had a gameplan to frustrate the Clarets with the Robins defending in numbers for most of the match. The scene was set within the first 30 seconds when Rodriguez found himself already being yellow carded for what looked like a ridiculous booking so early in the game and most Clarets fans sensed this was not going to be our day when Graham Alexander even missed a penalty midway through the first half! Yes, that`s right MISSED a penalty, his first in a Claret & Blue shirt!
We can look for excuses if we like. Robins` keeper, David James was in top form and the word ‘Calamity` never crossed his lips. There was the inevitable bit of woodwork getting in the way on more than one occasion and we had 56 % of the possession. Remarkably we also had 28 attempts on goal during this match, 15 of them on target but still we could not get that breakthrough goal despite a much better second half performance. Chris Eagles once more was having a great game and was a continual threat to the Robins defence whilst looking the most likely to break the deadlock. In the end though, we had to settle for a point.
It was so disappointing not to keep more in touch with the leaders with QPR winning yet again and now moving 10 points clear of the Clarets in top spot. Cardiff too in second place have now moved four points ahead of Burnley. Clarets fans will be hoping we can get back on track with another home game coming up against Hull City on Tuesday night (28th Sept) but we really have to learn how to kill games off and be more ruthless and consistent if we are to get automatic promotion.
After a stunning performance against Premier League, Bolton in midweek, hopes were high that we could repeat that excellent team effort and take the Robins to the cleaners. It was not to be though despite Brian Laws showing faith in virtually the same starting eleven that lined up against Owen Coyle`s mob. Brian Jensen was the only change, he returned to the side as expected replacing Lee Grant who returned to the bench. Ross Wallace also returned being given a place on the bench. He was rested against Bolton despite having recovered from a hamstring injury picked up in the previous game away to Palace. The eighteen named by Laws in summary therefore was as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Cork, Elliott, Eagles, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Duff, Cort, Marney, Wallace, Paterson, Thompson
It was a sunny but bitterly cold day for the start of this game as Stockport referee, Scott Mathieson got the match underway in front of a disappointing 14,540 set of fans. Bristol City`s contingent had probably come in a mini-bus! The atmosphere at the game was pretty dire after the intensity of the Bolton match but the Clarets soon had chance to shout in anger and liven things up a bit following the ridiculous booking of Jay Rodriguez for a foul in the first 30 seconds of the game. It may have been a foul but it seemed so inappropriate to book a player so early. It seemed to set the scene though for a very frustrating afternoon for Clarets fans.
Burnley had a couple of early chances when Rodriguez got in a header that forced a save from David James and Jack Cork thumped a well-taken volley over the bar but we looked too hesitant on occasions especially in defence. Even Andre Bikey was having a bit of an off day despite some stunning back-four performances recently.
Bristol City though were pretty much devoid of attacking ideas and when they did get their chances on the break seemed to mishit their attempts on goal with Jensen having little to do all afternoon. It was a case of welly it up to Stead and hope for the best!
In the 26th minute all Clarets fans thought it was a foregone conclusion we would be 1-0 up after being awarded a penalty. Tyrone Mears had latched on to Chris Eagles` sublime chip but as he went through on goal he was hauled down in the area by Danny Haynes.
The referee had no hesitation pointing immediately to the spot so up stepped Graham Alexander to take his 19th penalty since joining the Clarets having put away all the previous eighteen. Clarets fans may well remember the two penalties he scored against Bristol City at Turf Moor in the last match of the 2008-9 seasons. Those goals contributed to our 4-0 win, a victory that ensured we would be in the play-offs with even greater glory to come. Could Grezza now make it a third against the Robins? Believe or not, no! He put his shot agonisingly wide and all Clarets fans will now be hoping he doesn`t suffer any psychological angst the next time he lines up to take a penalty.
There was a sort of stunned silence when he missed with Clarets fans trying to get over the shock but I guess all good things come to an end sometime so let`s hope this is just a one-off blip!
Alexander nearly made amends ten minutes later direct from a free-kick. James for once made a mistake spilling the ball. Cork pounced on the loose ball and looked certain to score with a short-range effort before James somehow recovered getting a left-hand to save Cork`s attempt and ensure the half-time score remained goalless.
It was perhaps surprising, Brian Laws made no changes for the start of the second half. It was clear we needed something different to break the Robins down but if there was a Plan B we would have to wait for it!
The Clarets though to their credit seemed to buck up in the second half putting together a number of attacks. Carlisle came close with an early attempted header from a Fox corner but he failed to make contact. Despite our possession and pressure though Bristol City whilst holding the Clarets advance clearly grew more confident in attack and had some chances of their own on the break. A cross by Adomah set up a shooting chance for Marvin Elliott but the ball hit his team mate, Danny Rose who was in an offside position. McAllister then floated over a free-kick which Fontaine could only head wide. Bristol City though were then let off the hook from a quickly taken free kick by Alexander with Rodriguez trying his best to get on the end of it. The ball though fell to Skuse who must have been relieved to see his poked attempted clearance hit his own bar!
It was the Clarets now though who would turn up the heat particularly from Chris Eagles engine room!
Eagles first set up Iwelumo who forced a save from James at full stretch. He then got in a curler of a shot that went agonisingly wide. The Clarets were now going for broke in an all out attack to break the deadlock. Fresh legs in the form of first Thompson and then Wallace were brought on to bolster our attacking options but we just could not get that elusive goal.
Ten minutes from time and Fox let rip with a thunderous shot from distance but James again was equal to it flying through the air to pull off a stunning save.
With the clock ticking down there was always the fear that the Robins would get the winner. It would have been a travesty of justice had they done so but they had a chance to break the deadlock when Stead brought out a save from Jensen with his shot looking to be heading for the bottom corner of the net.
In the last minute of the game, Burnley nearly secured all three points before the woodwork once more came to the opposition`s rescue. How many times has the woodwork got in the way these last few games? This time a superb cross from Wallace found the head of Elliott but the ball stubbornly refused to go in after hitting the bar. Summed up our day really, one of many missed chances after a poor start. We lose our 100% home record for the season too but let`s get back on track against Hull City on Tuesday night and put this disappointment behind us.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Fox, Alexander (Marney 62), Cork, Elliott, Rodriguez (Wallace 79), Eagles, Iwelumo (Thompson 74)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Duff, Cort, Paterson
Booked: Rodriguez, Bikey, Thompson
Bristol City:James,McAllister,Fontaine, Carey,Ribeiro,Elliott,Skuse, Adomah,Rose,Haynes(Campbell-Ryce 55),Stead
Subs Not Used: Gerken, Stewart, Johnson, Sproul, Clarkson, Pitman
Booked: McAllister, Campbell-Ryce
Possession: 56% Burnley with 15 shots on target/ 13 off target, 44% Bristol City with 4 shots on target/5 off target(Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Stockport)