Date: 31st December 2011 at 5:39pm
Written by:

The Clarets continued their impressive march up the table today after defeating Hull City 1-0 at Turf Moor to bring 2011 to a close. This is the first time the Clarets have won the last game of the year since 2004 and all Burnley fans can now go into the New Year in upbeat mood.

Burnley rode their luck at times to be honest in a tense, nervous game. It is certainly also fair to say that but for some woeful shooting from the Tigers in might have been a different story.

In the end though, a Martin Paterson goal on 34 minutes was enough to secure all three points.

The victory sees the Clarets move up to 7th spot just three points behind their opponents today who drop to sixth. The statistics are remarkable considering where we were just a few weeks back in the corresponding game at the KC Stadium last month. We could have been in the bottom three had we not managed to come back from 2-0 down against the Tigers with fifteen minutes to play to win 3-2 but look at us now! Six wins in the last seven, our third consecutive clean sheet, our first double of the season at our first attempt and the sixth successive time we have beaten the Tigers. They really must be sick of the sight of us. Eddie Howe surely must now be a candidate for ‘Manager of the Month` as we enter 2012 on a high.

Strangely the Clarets have recently been winning and picking up points in games where we have looked far from impressive and this was another of those matches. Hull put us under the cosh and had most of the possession but in the end it counted for nothing and it is now Burnley who march on with their heads held high. It is said that a side pushing for promotion often win whilst playing badly so it can only be positive that we are now grinding out results despite the pressure and under par performances.

Next up is Leeds United at Elland Road on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd January! It will be our third consecutive game against a Yorkshire club and how sweet it would be to make it three consecutive wins. Come on you Clarets!

Team Sheet

Eddie Howe continued his strategy of 4-4-2 at home for the start of this game and paired Martin Paterson with Jay Rodriguez up front. Junior Stanislas was dropped from the sixteen allowing Keith Treacy to return to the starting eleven. Michael Duff did not make the sixteen after picking up a hamstring in the last game at home to Doncaster so Brian Easton made a start at left back allowing Ben Mee to move into the centre of defence

In summary then we lined up as follows:

Grant, Trippier, Mee, Edgar, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Treacy, Rodriguez, Paterson

Subs: Stewart, Amougou, Bartley, Vokes, Austin

Full Match Report

It was a miserable windy, wet, dank and drab day in Burnley as Staffordshire referee, Christopher Sarginson got the last game of 2011 underway with both sides eager to keep their play-offs hopes alive. Burnley started 4-4-2 as expected at home with Hull City preferring a five man midfield with one up front. Conditions were not good for a game of football with swirling winds and a wet, damp pitch underfoot but at least both sides had to suffer the same problems.

The weather was no doubt affecting play as both sides struggled to make any meaningful inroads in the first few minutes of this game and there was certainly very little goal action at either end.

Hull though gradually seemed to take the upper hand and the Burnley back-four were certainly the busier of the two defences as the first half progressed. We were lucky not to go behind and rode our luck a number of times with Hull letting us off the hook basically through poor shooting and being unable to make their lion`s share of possession count.

Lee Grant needed two attempts to wrestle with the ball and save a Matty Fryatt shot in the opening salvo from Hull. With just over 30 minutes played, Jack Hobbs came close to opening the scoring but managed to side-foot his shot wide of target as the Tigers best chance so far went begging. McLean then popped up to head wide with Clarets fans now nervous as Hull began to pile on the pressure.

Against the run of play though and much to the relief of Clarets fans, we took the lead from the resulting goal-kick. Grant powered the ball deep into Hull`s half. The ball bounced awkwardly for the Tigers` skipper, Hobbs and he botched his attempted header back to his keeper, Peter Gulacsi. Gulacsi could only parry the ball and it flew high allowing Paterson to pounce and guide the ball into an empty net. We were a tadge fortunate to find ourselves 1-0 up to be honest but it certainly eased some of the nervous tension following Hull`s earlier domination.

The unfortunate Tigers keeper, on loan from Liverpool also appeared to pick up an injury from the goal incident and he soon limped off to be replaced by Adrian Basso.

Hull continued to have the upper edge in the first half despite being a goal down but we held on to lead 1-0 at half-time. The major threat in the first half had come down the flank with left back Andy Dawson causing the Burnley defence all sorts of problems. Robert Koren too was also wreaking havoc and we would have to keep him in check in the second half.

Eddie Howe made no changes to the team for the start of the second half but did change his tactics and formation. Dean Marney was now further back as a holding midfielder with Jay Rodriguez playing out wider on the left side of midfield. Wallace was now playing more central with the Clarets changing formation to 4-5-1 in an effort to stem the flow emanating from Koren and Dawson.

Sadly for the Clarets the ploy did not seem to have much effect and we struggled to have much influence in midfield and the final third. Koren continued to cause all sorts of problems for the back four and he should have equalised after ten minutes from the restart. A low cross from the impressive Dawson found the Slovenian international just inside the penalty area. He looked certain to score but somehow managed to put his shot wide of target just past the post.

He came close again soon after latching onto a cross from McLean. This time though he lifted the ball over the top of the bar and the Clarets could breathe yet another sigh of relief. Eddie Howe decided to boost his midfield again in the 64th minute by bringing on Bartley to replace a disappointing, lacklustre Keith Treacy but again we struggled to build any meaningful attacks in the Hull half. Hull could sense there might be something in this game for them and decided to move to the more attacking 4-4-2 formation after bringing Brady on to replace Stewart in the 66th minute.

It was now clear that we needed another goal to ease the pressure and we nearly got one on the break with 20 minutes to go. In a neat one-two, Wallace cut inside to release the ball back to Paterson. He unleashed a shot on target but this time Basso diving to his right managed to block the attempt. Rodriguez then got in behind the Hull defence to get in a low cross. The ball though tantalisingly flew across the front of goal with none of our strikers able to latch onto it. It was hectic and tense at this stage as attack became counter-attack with both sides fighting to score the next all important goal. Wallace found Rodriguez with an excellent pass but he could only slice his volley wide. Burnley grafted but Hull never gave up and always looked a threat on the break. The Tigers would certainly rue their missed chances in the end and even five minutes of added time would not be enough for them to find that elusive equaliser.

The final whistle came as a blessed relief to Clarets fans though. It had been a nervous, tense and sweaty affair all afternoon but now we could all relax and see in the New Year in style later that evening.

What a month for Eddie Howe. He now has a win rate of about 46% since becoming the Burnley gaffer. Interestingly that is even better than Owen Coyle! Could the dream happen again? At least we go into 2012 with our hopes high something that looked unthinkable last month in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium with the lads 2-0 down, fifteen minutes to play and the drop zone looming.

Match Stats

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Treacy (Bartley 64), Rodriguez, Paterson (Vokes 90)

Subs Not Used: Stewart, Amougou, Austin

Goals: Paterson 34

Booked: Yellow card for Paterson

Hull: Gulacsi (Basso 42), Dawson, Chester, Hobbs, McShane, McKenna, Stewart (Brady 66) , Evans, Mclean (Garcia 83), Koren, Fryatt

Subs Not Used: Dudgeon, Cairney

Booked: Yellow card for McShane

Possession: 49% Burnley, 51% Hull City (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire)