Date: 8th April 2007 at 11:08am
Written by:

The Clarets came away with a shock 1-0 win against high-flyers Birmingham at St Andrews yesterday thanks to a second half goal from Spicer. This was a body blow to the Brummies who would have gone top had they won this game but at the same time this win eased our relegation fears big time as a number of the clubs below us also failed to get points.

Steve Cotterill dedicated the 1-0 win at Birmingham City to Clarets legend,Brian Miller,who sadly passed away on the morning of the game. The team also wore black armbands in respect of our former player,coach, manager and scout.

The first good news of the day for the Clarets fans was that the hamstring injuries to Djemba-Djemba and McVeigh had healed in time with both players being named in the starting eleven. In fact the starting eleven was the same that had beaten Plymouth so convincingly 4-0 last Tuesday night. James O’Connor and Jon Harley were also selected therefore despite some concern that they would get a two-match ban if they received another yellow card in this match. Both players had received 9 bookings and could not afford another one before the deadline for suspensions on Sunday night.

There was only one change to the 16 named players with Spicer replacing Garreth O’Connor on the bench. What an inspirational change that would prove to be!

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Harley, Thomas, Caldwell, Duff, Jones, Djemba-Djemba, J O’Connor, Elliott, McVeigh, Gray

Subs: Coughlan, Coyne, McCann, Spicer, Akinbiyi.

McVeigh would play just behind Gray in a 4-4-1-1 formation as the team in yellow waited for referee Nigel Miller to start the match.

Birmingham as expected put the Clarets under increasing pressure in the first 25 minutes of this match but they weathered the storm with an impressive defensive display.

There was some debate as to whether Jensen should have been cautioned for a foul on Nicklas Bendtner outside his area in the fifth minute but he survived that one.

In the 16th minute Gary McSheffrey beat the offside trap and crossed to an industrious and dangerous Bendtner only for Wayne Thomas to clear from under the crossbar.

Centre back Radhi Jaidi following a McSheffrey free kick in the 24th minute, failed to get enough purchase and power in his shot from eight yards out to beat Jensen.

We were under the cosh but our midfield especially Djembe-Djembe and James O’Connor were putting in some excellent touches and the defence held firm.

Caldwell was booked for a foul on Vine after 29 minutes evenning up the card tally with Larsson booked for a foul on Jones after 17 minutes. Mehdi Nafti made this score 2-1 after 41 minutes for a foul on McVeigh.

The Clarets had their best chance of taking a first-half lead in stoppage time

The pace of Jones shone through again and his shot was deflected with McVeigh unable to beat Brum keeper,Colin Doyle from 10 yards.

So the half-time whistle went and the lads could hold they heads up high after a creditable performance in defence and midfield. Could we score though in the second half to win and produce the biggest shock of the season?

There was no change to the Clarets line up for the start of the second-half and the lads came out of the blocks quicker than the home team getting a couple of corners in quick succession. Both corners were outswinging and taken by Elliott. Thomas got an header to the second one but it went harmlessly over the bar. We do seem to be woeful at corners and maybe we need to consider inswinging corners taken by a left footer.

Djemba-Djemba continued to look awesome in midfield, Jones appears to be looking like the Steve of old with pace and confidence returned and Paul McVeigh looks an excellent loan putting in some excellent headers with virtually no ball wasted.

The Blues fans frustrations began to show as the Clarets held their own against anything their team could chuck at us.

During the middle of the second half, the Blues probably had their best spell of pressure but the Clarets just soaked it all up.

On 67 minutes, the gaffer made his first substitution as Spicer came on to directly replace Paul McVeigh. It was perhaps also a sign of desperation and frustration that led to Bruce making his second substitution replacing Bendtner with Jerome after 76 minutes.

Our substitution proved to be the most cunning when Spicer

He became a Clarets hero on 80 minutes with an opportunist goal.

Martin Taylor lost possession, allowing Spicer a clear run on goal, and the midfielder thumped a drive past keeper Colin Doyle from the centre of the penalty area. His fresh legs than sprinted over to the away end so he could celebrate with the cheering Clarets fans who by now were in ecstacy!

We now had 10 minutes to sweat out this match but then just to make the tensions even more for the Clarets faithful, the fourth official announced there would be another five minutes to add on! Most pundits would have thought 3 minutes,four at most!

Steve Cotterill put on Coughlan to add some extra cover in defence. He replaced Jones after 88 minutes. Ade Akinbiyi was also given a bit of run out replacing Gray after 90 minutes.

Oh well for once the opposing team did not manage to sneak a late equaliser as the final whistle blew much to the relief of all Clarets fans.

So as another famous Bruce might have said ‘Good game,good game, look at the old scoreboard-Birmingham 0-1 Clarets!!

What a ‘Brucie Bonus’ that was for the Clarets as we now steer further clear of the relegation-haunted pack moving up to 17th place on 48 points now seven points clear of the third from bottom team Barnsley and with a game in hand over the bottom six clubs. We also have an amazing goal difference now of zero far better than any of the clubs below us (minus 9-29) and the third best in the bottom 12.

Despite the awful winless streak of 19 matches, if we get 12 points from the remaining 18 points on offer we will have equalled our best post-Digital season.

It certainly is a ‘funny old game’


Birmingham: Doyle, Kelly, Jaidi, Martin Taylor, Sadler (Danns 85), Larsson, Johnson, Nafti (Campbell 58), McSheffrey, Bendtner (Jerome 76), Vine.

Subs Not Used: Maik Taylor, Muamba.

Booked: Larsson, Nafti.

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Thomas, Caldwell, Harley, Elliott, James O’Connor, Djemba-Djemba, Jones (Coughlan 88), Gray (Akinbiyi 90), McVeigh (Spicer 67).

Subs Not Used: Coyne, McCann.

Booked: Caldwell.

Goals: Spicer 80.