Date: 27th December 2011 at 9:06pm
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The Clarets brought some festive cheer to Turf Moor on Boxing Day after defeating Doncaster Rovers 3-0. Our first home win on this day since 2005! The win propels Burnley into ninth spot just three points now from the play-offs positions. Our next game is at home to Hull City on New Year`s Eve and it is remarkable to think that this corresponding fixture at the KC Stadium only last November almost saw the Clarets drop into the bottom three with the side 2-0 down and just 15 minutes to play. Coming back in that game to win 3-2 seems to have given the team a new lease of life and since that victory we have won four of the five games with only the home defeat to Portsmouth blotting the copybook.

Strangely we are not playing that particularly well either and we have rode our luck at times but to now be within three points of the sixth spot is an excellent achievement after ruing our inconsistency for most of this season. Another three points against the Tigers would set us up nicely for the New Year after now completing the first half of the season and having played every team at least once. The game against Hull will be our first chance to get the double over a club this season and what a time it would be to do it.

In the Boxing Day clash against Doncaster Rovers, Burnley looked a little jaded to be honest and took some time to get into the game. Donny too were pretty woeful despite having some high-profile names in their sixteen, most notably controversial former Blackburn Rovers striker, El Hadji Diouf. Diouf was in the starting eleven and it was only natural he would be given some grief from the Clarets faithful.

With 30 minutes of the game played, it looked unlikely that the stalemate would be broken. It was a pretty dire game to watch at this stage and certainly frustrating for all Clarets fans. Out-of-the blue though in the 37th minute the Clarets were awarded a penalty, our first in the League this season after Sam Hird had been deemed to have fouled Chris McCann. Jay Rodriguez slotted home from the penalty spot to give the Clarets a 1-0 lead at half-time.

The second-half also seemed to lack sparkle with both sides failing to raise their game. You just couldn`t relax though with the score at 1-0 and the game badly needed another Clarets goal to kill the game off. That goal did not come until the 84th minute. A fierce shot from Jay Rodriguez rattled the bar but the ball fell nicely for Martin Paterson to head home and score his first goal in the Championship since November 2010. It was now effectively curtains for Donny but just to rub salt in their wounds, we went further ahead deep into added time thanks to an own goal. It was Sam Hird who put the ball in his own net to make it a miserable afternoon for the 24 year old defender after earlier also conceding the penalty.

So it was 3-0 to the Clarets then, in the end and job done. If we can continue to pick up points, without playing at our best it augers well for the second-half of the season. It has certainly been a topsy-turvy first half of the season but if we can beat Hull at home on New Year`s Eve the year will certainly end on a high and we can all look forward to 2012 with the team in contention for a play-offs spot.

Team Sheet

Eddie Howe continued his strategy of 4-4-2 at home and paired Martin Paterson with Jay Rodriguez up front. Junior Stanislas also returned to the starting eleven but perhaps surprisingly there was no room for Marvin Bartley who had to be content with a place on the bench. This meant that Dean Marney would make another start this time partnering Chris McCann in the centre of midfield.

In summary then we lined up as follows:

Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Rodriguez, Paterson

Substitutes: Stewart, Easton, Bartley, Vokes, Austin

Full Match Report

Burnley`s home form of late has been questionable to say the least so many Clarets fans were nervous ahead of this game. Doncaster Rovers may be struggling in the relegation zone at the moment but they have shown recent signs of improvement and they have been a bit of a bogey team in recent seasons for the Clarets. Wrap that up with the fact this was in the middle of the festive season, not traditionally a good time for Burnley and you can understand why Clarets fans were hesitant as Lancashire referee, David Webb got the game underway.

The game got off to a lively start for the Clarets. We had quite a few chances in the first 15 minutes to get our noses in front but it all came to nothing. An early corner saw the Clarets try their well-rehearsed step-over routine with Edgar dummying to set-up Rodriguez. James O`Connor though came to Donny`s rescue blocking the shot in front of goal. A long throw from Mee then found Rodriguez who headed the ball into the danger area allowing Stanislas to have a shot on goal only for O`Connor to again clear the danger. After the hectic start though the game settled down into a pretty mediocre affair with neither side able to take the upper hand and get the opening goal. Burnley still had chances though. Stanislas found McCann with an excellent cross but the captain failed to make good enough contact on the ball. The former West Ham winger was having a pretty good first half after recent disappointments and he then had another attempt blocked as Burnley tried to take control and get that all important opening goal.

Doncaster Rovers in contrast were finding it hard to create any meaningful attack with Lee Grant having a pretty quiet time so far. James Coppinger should have done better with one attempt but blasted his shot high and wide of target.

Nine minutes from time though, Burnley were awarded a controversial penalty after Sam Hird was adjudged to have impeded Chris McCann in the area. It looked a soft penalty to be honest and even McCann seemed shocked when the referee pointed to the spot. You can`t look a gift horse in the mouth though and Jay Rodriguez duly stepped up to the mark to ram the ball home from the spot and put the Clarets 1-0 up.

Clarets fans were now probably expecting Burnley to dominate the game and go further ahead but they did not take into account Doncaster`s resolve to try and get back into the match. The harsh penalty decision seemed to stir the visitors into action. Doncaster`s leading goal-scorer, Billy Sharp had been fairly subdued for most of the half but he came close to equalising from a Brian Stock cross when his header hit the inside of a post. Giles Barnes should also have done better after latching onto the ball pulled-back by Simon Gillett. His side-footed effort though was wide of target.

Burnley could certainly not rest on their laurels and it was clear that we needed a second goal to keep Doncaster at bay. We would though have to settle for 1-0 at half-time and hope we could go further ahead in the second half and ease the nervousness quite clearly evident amongst the home contingent.

Eddie Howe made no changes for the start of the second half and again the Clarets started the brighter of the two teams. Rodriguez nearly made it 2-0 with just seven minutes played after being put clear by Wallace. Racing into space, he unleashed a low shot from outside the penalty area. The Rovers third-string keeper, Gary Woods though diving to his right managed to thump the ball away.

Grant looked distinctly nervous after failing to punch the ball away on the edge of the penalty area. Retreating back to his goal, he had to pull off a save in mid-air to deny Coppinger who had sensed the keeper was out of position.

Howe was then forced to change things around in the back-four when Michael Duff picked up an injury and limped off with about 30 minutes still to play. Ben Mee moved back into the centre of defence with Brian Easton coming on from the bench to take over the left back position.

On the break, Wallace latched onto a ball by Rodriguez but could only drive his right-footed shot into the side netting. Trippier then charged forward from the back to pick up a pass from Paterson before aiming a low shot towards the bottom corner of the net. Woods though was once again in the right place to save.

It was now time for Burnley to freshen up and see if they could put the game beyond Doncaster`s reach. A now tired-looking Stanislas was replaced in the 69th minute by Bartley in an effort to liven the game up.

It was a relief when at long last we managed to double our lead in the 84th minute. Rodriguez looked to have earned his brace with a thumping shot from distance but the ball flew down off the bar. Paterson reacted the quickest though to head home and put the Clarets 2-0 up.

There would then be an added bonus for Clarets fans in the dying seconds of extra time when Rodriguez at the far post got up to head towards target only for the ball to hit the outstretched leg of the hapless Hird and go over the line to record an own goal.

There was no doubt we deserved this win in the end but at times we did struggle to make an impression against a very poor opposition. We never do things the easy way do we but who cares? That`s another three points in the bag and it is about time Doncaster Rovers went away empty handed from Turf Moor. Let`s hope that is the first of three consecutive wins against Yorkshire opposition with Hull City next up on New Year`s Eve followed by Leeds United at Elland Road on 2nd January.

Match Stats

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff (Easton 62), Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas (Bartley 69), Rodriguez, Paterson (Austin 85)

Subs Not Used: Stewart, Vokes

Goals: Rodriguez (pen) 37, Paterson 84, Hird (og) 90+5

Booked: Yellow cards for McCann and Paterson

Doncaster: Woods, O’Connor, Hird, Ilunga, Beye, Stock, Barnes (Hayter 86), Gillett (Bennett 79), Coppinger, Sharp, Diouf (Goulon 86)

Subs Not Used: Friend, Chimbonda

Booked: Beye, Stock

Possession: 54% Burnley, 46% Doncaster (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: David Webb (Lancashire)