Date: 12th March 2008 at 4:01pm
Written by:

The Clarets defeated Charlton, 1-0 at Turf Moor last night thanks to a spectacular killer goal by Wade Elliott in the second half. This was not a night for good football, with the cold, blustery winds interspaced with downpours and hailstorms not helping either side play a controlled game.

Nevertheless, we got that all important goal and secured another three points to keep our play-off dreams alive.

We now have 55 points, and are in 8th place having stolen a march on Charlton, one of our play-offs rivals who in 5th place now only have one point more than the Clarets.

Hull in 6th place also have 56 points but have played two games fewer. Plymouth in 7th place have the same number of points as the Clarets but a superior goal difference. On Saturday, we play Wolves at home, another play-offs contender and it is imperative we win this match to keep up the pressure on the pack fighting for a Top 6 finish.

With a few teams now having a game advantage over the Clarets and with most of the Top 10 teams having a better goal difference, there is no room for any slip ups but at least last night’s result keeps us in with a fighting chance.

Charlton must be fed up of the Clarets; we have now completed the double over them, having previously beaten them 3-1 at The Valley back in December. That day saw Andy Gray bag a brace for the Clarets and no doubt convinced Addicks manager, Alan Pardew to tempt Gray to The Valley with the offer of ‘double your money`. That story is now history, but Gray lined up for Charlton against us last night running the gauntlet of taunts and boos from the unforgiving Clarets fans.

The striker had still not scored for Charlton since his transfer in the January window and Clarets fans could be forgiven for having that uncomfortable feeling he would get his first goal against his former club last night. We need not have worried; he had an average game at best and was substituted in the second half after 69 minutes with Charlton 1-0 down and looking for that elusive equaliser.

The two wins against Charlton have severely dented any ambition the London club might have had for automatic promotion and a return to the Premier League at the first attempt. Pardew now appears to accept that realistically a play-offs place is all they can now hope for (and we are only one point behind them!)

In terms of team selection for last night`s match, the Clarets were without Chris McCann, sitting out his second match after picking up a thigh strain against Hull and Joey Gudjonsson, suspended for a second yellow and sending off, also in the Hull game. Joey has now completed his two match ban and will be available for selection on Saturday.

Captain Steven Caldwell, also sent off for a second yellow in that infamous Hull match, was available for the Charlton game having sat out his one-match ban against Stoke. However, Coyle decided to keep the same back four that did so well against Stoke with Stan Varga retaining his place.

One further change saw the return of Andrew Cole to the starting eleven with Ade Akinbiyi dropping back to the bench. Alan Mahon was also preferred in midfield to Mark Randall.

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Kiraly, Alexander, Carlisle, Varga, Harley, Elliott, James O’Connor, Mahon, Lafferty, Cole, Blake

Subs: Jensen, Unsworth, Spicer, Akinbiyi, Randall

Nottinghamshire referee, Phil Joslin got the match underway.

Within two minutes, the Clarets had their first chance to open the scoring after James O`Connor got above Addicks defender, McCarthy to head the ball just over the goal.

The Clarets seemed to have the early domination in this game and after 17 minutes, Blake`s cross confused the Charlton defence whilst McCarthy nearly put the ball in his own net. He attempted to clear with a diving header and the ball just managed to avoid going under the crossbar.

Jerome Thomas thankfully shot well over a minute later as the Addicks tried to get into the game.

Ambrose tried a shot from distance on 34 minutes, but Kiraly was alert and equal to the threat.

The weather now began to get worse making football almost impossible with gales and strong downpours having their effect as the first half fizzled out without much excitement. A pretty dire game to be honest so far as both sides traipsed into the dressing room looking bedraggled and sodden with no goals to show for their effort.

The weather was having its effect on proceedings even at half-time, with the draw being held on the side under the Bob Lord with Graham Branch not wishing to venture out on the rain sodden, wet and windy pitch! The Pie & Chips game seemed to be moved to a new position to avoid the wind and even then the poor team playing failed to get any balls through the hole!

Oh well, what would the second half bring, assuming it wouldn`t be abandoned due to the adverse weather conditions?

Clarke Carlisle was soon into action denying Andy Gray his dreaded first goal for the Addicks after a defensive blunder by Alexander. Carlisle pulled off a great tackle on Gray to put the ball behind for a corner. Sodje should probably have scored from the corner and the Clarets should certainly have defended it better. Thankfully, he couldn`t get enough accuracy on his free header and the Clarets could breathe again.

The Clarets though were about to take the lead in spectacular fashion. Robbie Blake after nutmegging a Charlton defender, found Elliott rushing in from the right wing. Elliott then booted the ball from distance giving keeper, Nicky Whelan no chance to put the Clarets 1-0 up after 59 minutes.

This goal might well be the Clarets goal of the season and in many ways reminded Clarets fans of a similar goal Elliott scored against Sunderland last season, the last time in fact he was on the score sheet until last night.

Jon Harley nearly made it 2-0 a couple of minutes later and his long-range shot had the Addicks keeper well beaten but the ball just skimmed the crossbar.

Mahon then put his shot just wide after 63 minutes before being replaced by John Spicer.

Weaver saved well from Lafferty after 72 minutes after the Northern Ireland International had got in an accurate shot from a good position inside the box. It was Lafferty again two minutes later who came close to doubling the Clarets lead but he fired his shot over the bar.

Addicks substitute Luke Varney fluffed a chance to get Charlton level after 81 minutes. Graham Alexander again was at fault in defence and tried to clear towards his own goal giving Varney a free header. However his header was well wide much to the relief of the Clarets fans who by now were getting a little restless and frustrated by a number of defensive errors needlessly putting the side under pressure.

The Clarets played out the last few minutes looking a little nervy but they held firm and it was somewhat of a relief when the final whistle blew knowing our play-off hopes were still alive with another three points in the bag. Now we could all go home happy, comb our hair and get warm & dry!


Burnley: Kiraly, Alexander, Carlisle, Varga, Harley, Elliott, James O’Connor, Mahon (Spicer 63), Lafferty, Cole (Akinbiyi 75), Blake (Randall 87).

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Unsworth.

Booked: Randall.

Goals: Elliott 59.

Charlton: Weaver, Halford, Sodje, McCarthy, Thatcher, Semedo (Zhi 79), Holland, Thomas, Ambrose (Varney 69), Gray (Iwelumo 69), Lita.

Subs Not Used: Elliot, Fortune.

Booked: Semedo.

Ref: Phil Joslin (Nottinghamshire).