Date: 31st July 2008 at 10:25am
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The Clarets played their 8th pre-season friendly of their hectic schedule last night against League 2 outfit, Bradford City at the Coral Windows Stadium.

Steve Jones came to the rescue in the 90th minute to give the Clarets a last gasp 2-1 victory with virtually the last kick of the match.

A Steven Caldwell goal after 55 minutes had cancelled out the Bantams goal by Conlon on the stroke of half-time.

This victory is their 5th consecutive win in the pre-season friendlies and now they only have one remaining friendly to play against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Turf Moor this Saturday.

It has certainly been a testing pre-season challenge for the players who will have played nine pre-season friendlies and covered the US, Scotand, Ireland, Accrington and Bradford on their travels.

It will be a welcome relief also for a number of home-based Clarets fans to now be able to see how the new squad is facing up for the first time in our one and only home friendly this Saturday.

As well as being one of the most hectic pre-season schedules it has also been one of the most successful in recent years.

Out of the eight matches played so far, we only lost our first game against Cary Railhawks U-23 during the US Tour.

That was really a match to remove the cobwebs after the squad had only been in training about a week.

Apart from that defeat and a draw against Queen of the South in the first match of the Scottish tour, all the other games have resulted in Clarets victories and Owen Coyle will be hoping to finish the pre-season warm up by winning the final friendly this Saturday to make it six wins on the trot, setting us up nicely for the first game of the new season.

This will be away to Sheffield Wednesday on the 9th August.It was rather interesting that Owls manager, Brian Laws was watching the match last night, looking for clues no doubt so let’s hope we caused him to worry.

The trip across the Pennines yesterday was the same one the Clarets made last pre-season when they played out a 1-1 draw against Bradford City at the Coral Windows Stadium.

The manager then was Steve Cotterill, so could Owen Coyle go one better and come away with a victory?

Well we would have to do it without Wade Elliott, who was still suffering from a niggly leg injury and our new signing of the week, Chris Eagles who had some personal business to attend to.

There were also a few knocks and scrapes to other players so as a precaution they did not feature in this match. Chris McCann, Kevin McDonald and Jay Rodriguez were all absent.

Our new trialist, Aleksandrs Solovjovs was again in the starting eleven with Penny returning in goal as the Clarets lined up as follows:

Penny, Alexander, Carlisle, Jordan, Kalvenes, Van der Schaaf, MacDonald, Mahon, Solovjovs, Blake, Paterson.

Subs: Jensen, Akinbiyi, Caldwell, Duff, Gudjonsson, Jones, Berisha, Kay.

Our controversial referee, Graham Laws got the match underway

It was the Latvian trialist,Solovjovs in the fifth minute who picked up the ball from an attempted clearance crossing for Martin Paterson to chance his luck for the first opportunity of the game but the danger passed

After 10 minutes of play, Penny had Carlisle to thank for being well placed on the line, clearing a 25 yard thunderbolt from the Bantams’ Paul McLaren.

Six minutes later and it was the turn of City’s keeper, Rhys Evans to save the day.

Alex MacDonald picked up the ball from Paterson and after a nice one-two with the former Scunthorpe striker unleased a shot that forced a full length save from Evans.

Paterson linking well with Blake unleashed a shot after 23 minutes only for Bantams keeper, Evans to turn the ball over the bar with his outstretched hand.

The game was now becoming entertaining with end to end play. Penny saved from Willy Topp after a cross by Daley on 30 minutes.

Blake was causing all sorts of problems for the Bantams defence and his back heel to MacDonald led to another shot from the youngster being well saved by the busy Evans.

Owen Coyle was then forced to replace a player for the second time this summer with referee Laws insisting that Van der Schaaf come off the pitch after a second foul that under normal circumstances would have led to a yellow card.

Gud news for Joey then as the Icelandic midfielder came on to replace the bemused and unlucky Remco!

The Clarets luck was now deserting them and after a wild clearance attempt and miscue by Jordan in the Stanley game that forced Jensen to save, he was at it again this time misjudging a long ball with six minutes to go to the end of the first half.

The mistake allowed Barry Conlon to get behind Jordan and lob the ball over Penny to score from 12 yards and put the Bantams 1-0 with half time approaching.

Jordan’s mistake ensured he wouldn’t be coming out for the second half and Captain Caldwell duly came on. One further change at half time saw Steve Jones replace Alex MacDonald in what would prove an inspired substitution.

Blake was soon in action again after a positive start by the Clarets seeking to get that equaliser. He picked up the ball from Alexander on 50 minutes but shot wide after rounding two defenders.

It was Blake, on song all night and our Man of the Match that soon contributed to our equaliser though when four minutes later he took a corner and spotted the lurking Steven Caldwell unmarked at the far post.

The perfect corner found the head of Caldwell and the ball shot downward to cross the line at the near post and make it 1-1.

Gudjonsson tried a long range shot after nearly 60 minutes of play but it was deflected wide and a few minutes later Evans saved well from a curling shot by Mahon.

A few more attempts on goal by both sides came to nothing and as the clock ticked down a 1-1 draw looked on the cards for the second year running.

Steve Jones however having a good game had other ideas and sealed the victory in the final minute picking up the ball from a Gudjonsson cross and heading inside the far post to make the final score 2-1 to the Clarets.

Probably what is most pleasing about this victory and the results of the other friendlies is not so much the fact we are winning most of the games but the fact that all the squad appear to be playing well and fighting for a place.

Last night it was the turn of Steve Jones to catch the gaffer’s eye, Berisha did his stuff against Accrington, Gudjonsson looks lively and has a lethal shot and we havent even yet seen the debut of new signing, Chris Eagles!

Another player to catch the eye last night was the trialist, Solovjovs. He was given a long run out playing 81 minutes before being substituted by Adam Kay and Coyle praised him after the game suggesting a contract could be in the offing if they can agree terms.

He is also getting good reviews from the fans who have seen him play in the game against Glentoran as well as last night.

We seem to have got one of the healthiest squads in some time with competition for all the places and we may still have more new faces to come.

We do need another defender though dont we or are we going to concentrate on defensive midfielders and play 3-5-2?

Burnley: Penny, Alexander, Carlisle, Jordan (Caldwell 46), Kalvenes, van der Schaaf (Gudjonsson 31), MacDonald (Jones 46), Mahon (Berisha 72), Solovjovs (Kay 81), Blake, Paterson (Akinbiyi 61).

Subs: Jensen, Duff.

Bradford (starting): Evans, Arnison, Heckingbottom, McLaren, Lee, Clarke, Topp, Sharry, Conlon, Thorne, Daley.

Subs: Bowen, McLaughlin, Ainge, O’Brien, Taylforth, Osborne, Horne.

Ref: G Laws

Att: 2,227 (756 Burnley)