Date: 27th July 2008 at 10:15am
Written by:

The Clarets easily defeated Accrington Stanley 3-0 in the scorcing sun of the Fraser-Eagle stadium yesterday.

The Reds held the Clarets in the first half with their back four looking in good form. The 0-0 scoreline was frustrating for the gaffer, Owen Coyle and Stanley’s John Coleman would have been the happier of the two managers as the sides came out for the second half.

However, it would be Accrington Stanley that would wilt in the sun, as the Clarets fitness levels and experience began to dominate in the second half.

Joey Gudjonsson would be the first to break the deadlock after 49 minutes with a powerful free kick from 25 yards. The ball thundered into the left hand corner of the net via the Stanley keeper’s hand and crossbar.

Not to be outdone in the free kick stakes, it was then Robbie Blake who let rip a stunning shot from all of 40 yards on the hour mark. He had spotted that Arthur, the Stanley keeper had come forward too much and as the ball sailed over the keeper’s head, it sweetly sailed into the top left hand corner of the net to put the Clarets 2-0 up.

By now the Clarets were in complete control and just as Accrington Stanley were about to congratulate themselves for losing only to two set pieces, Besart Berisha showed he had other ideas.

Berisha, who had come on from the bench in the 74th minute, had been having a frustrating time in the pre-season friendlies after also missing the whole of last season with cruciate ligament damage.

However in the 84th minute, Berisha pounced on a delightful pass by Blake and steamed towards goal, beating three defenders in a mazy run before letting rip and giving substitute goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin no chance as he clocked up his first professional goal for the Clarets.

A stunning goal reminiscent of the one he got at Turf Moor for Albania against the England B team.

Owen Coyle was delighted after the match and had this to say about his winger’s wonder goal:

‘Besart’s goal will do his confidence no harm at all. I’m pleased for him, the crowd were great with him and he has rewarded them with a great goal.

‘He’s been out for a year and there is no getting away from the fact that he is finding it difficult to come back in. Today he scored a wonder goal and hopefully he can take that on and we can help him get back to the level he was at before.’

Owen Coyle had decided to rest Ade Akinbiyi and midfielders Kevin MacDonald and Chris McCann as a precaution after they had picked up knocks.

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows for the start of this match:

Penny, Alexander, Duff, Caldwell, Kalvenes, van der Schaaf, Mahon, Gudjonsson, Elliott, Blake, Paterson.

Subs: Jensen, Jordan, Carlisle, Jones, Rodriguez, A MacDonald, Berisha, Kay

The gaffer had previously indicated that experimentation in the side in the earlier friendlies while the squad reached the required fitness levels would now be over.

The remaining friendlies would now be an opportunity to start selecting a consistent team so they could fine tune certain aspects of the game like set pieces and cement an understanding between each other as the new signings began to settle in.

Pressure therefore would now be put on players to up their performance and begin to entertain now that the required fitness levels had been achieved.

The team named therefore for the Stanley match could well be part of the sixteen, Coyle has in mind for the start of the season along with the addition of Akinbiyi, McDonald and McCann when fully fit.

Competition for places though will be fierce, when you consider that Jensen, Carlisle and Berisha were not in the starting eleven yesterday. The three young guns, especially Alex MacDonald are also knocking on the door and of course we could still see some new faces signed before the start of the season.

Yesterday saw the welcome return of Van der Schaaf after he had recovered from a thigh strain that had kept him sidelined for the last four matches. He took up position just in front of the back four, allowing Gudjonsson and Mahon to support the front three, Elliot, Blake and Paterson.

The experimentation with 4-3-3 appears to be continuing although in this match they seemed to change to 4-4-2 and back again, even at one point playing 4-5-1.

As the match got underway,the Clarets were the fastest out of the blocks and Elliott nearly openned the scoring in the 3rd minute after a delightful pass from Van der Schaaf.

His shot though hit the inside of the post and spun across the face of goal to safety much to the relief of Stanley keeper, Kenny Arthur.

The rest of the first half was rather nervy for the Clarets and the back four, notably Kalvenes began to look a little shaky. It was not helped either by an hesitant Penny who nearly gave the opportunity for Stanley to score after fumbling the ball early in the game. The defence however managed to scramble the ball away.

The first half had little action to commend it, with the Clarets frustrated by a Stanley back four keeping them at bay. Some of the understanding by the new players in the team still needs some work with a number of passes often short whilst the back four continue to cause concern.

Owen Coyle started the second half with a few substitutions.

The lacklustre Diego Penny was replaced by Brian Jensen, perhaps to ensure Penny’s confidence didn’t further wilt in the sun.

Jordan came on for Kalvenes. The Norwegian had looked the weakest of the back four during the first half.

Young Alex MacDonald had also come on to replace Wade Elliott. This latter change was as a precaution after Elliott had tweaked his ankle in the first half.

Shortly after the Gudjonsson goal on 49 minutes, MacDonald nearly made it 2-0 after trying a shot from distance

It was to be a short spell on the pitch for MacDonald though as he too picked up an injury. He came off holding his thigh with Steve Jones replacing him after 53 minutes.

The Clarets subsitutions continued with Carlisle replacing Caldwell after 63 minutes; Alexander taking the Captain’s armband.

With the Clarets now 2-0 up thanks to the Blake free kick there was still time for Rodriguez to replace Mahon after 66 minutes

Adam Kay then came on for Van der Schaff and Berisha replaced Paterson on 74 minutes.

The Clarets were totally in control and Stanley’s first chance to score in the second half didnt come until 14 minutes to go when Jensen saved comfortably at his near post.

Four minutes later though, Jensen saved the day in spectacular fashion after a bizarre miscue by Jordan , trying to clear a cross sent the ball spinning towards an own goal.

Six minutes to go though and Berisha scored his wonder goal to seal the match and send the Clarets fans home happy.

The Clarets have now won three friendlies on the trot and only lost one of the six pre-season matches so far and that was their openner against Cary U-23 on the US tour.

Just three to go now with visits to Glentoran on Monday night, Bradford City on Wednesday night and finally a friendly at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle this Saturday.


Burnley: Penny (Jensen 46), Alexander, Duff, Caldwell (Carlisle 63), Kalvenes (Jordan 46), van der Schaaf (Kay 74), Mahon (Rodriguez 66), Gudjonsson, Elliott (A MacDonald 46, (Jones 53)), Blake, Paterson (Berisha 74).

Stanley (starting): Arthur, Cavanagh, King, Edwards, Murdock, Proctor, Miles, Craney, Clark, P Mullin, Grant.

Subs: Dunbavin, Richardson, Ouamara, Jahrow, Moore, Ryan, Flower, Turner, Bell, Murphy, Williams.

Att: 3,142