Date: 27th December 2008 at 11:26am
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Burnley suffered what is now becoming the traditional Boxing Day defeat with Barnsley the unlikely team to bring to an end our impressive home record this season.

We had not lost at Turf Moor since the opening game against Ipswich on the 16th August and the 2-1 defeat yesterday ensured that Barnsley became the first team this season to complete the double over the Clarets.

We must be sick and tired of this team, despite their midtable mediocrity; they were the last team to beat us after our 3-2 defeat at Oakwell back in November and have now brought our unbeaten 14-game home run to an end.

Barnsley took an early lead thanks to a Cureton goal but the Clarets got the equaliser after McCann scored on 38 minutes. The lacklustre Clarets though finally succumbed to an own goal in the second half after 67 minutes when McCann deflected in a Jamal Campbell-Ryce cross.

Owen Coyle as usual was philosophical about the defeat and claimed our side to be the better of the two:

“If you analyse the 95 minutes we were the better team without getting to the standards we have set previously.

‘We like to play a high tempo and missed a couple of gilt-edged chances. But we will take our medicine and come back.

‘They had a game plan which went perfectly for them and meant we were chasing the game.’

But no matter, Clarets fans festive spirit was still once more dampened by Boxing Day blues. This was a crying shame considering the gate of 16580. What is it about Boxing Day? We have only won 4 of the last 20 Boxing Day matches and I am now getting sick and tired of this traditional spoiler over every Christmas period and won`t be alone in my frustrations. We just have to hope this was a one off under par performance and not the start of a post-Christmas slump, something else Clarets fans have been accustomed to in recent seasons.

We must simply bounce back and quickly with a Sunday trip to the Keepmoat in the schedule this weekend. This game won`t be easy either with Doncaster Rovers buoyed up by a thumping away victory against fellow strugglers, Nottingham Forest yesterday. Rovers` impressive 4-2 victory ensured the death knell for Forest manager, Colin Calderwood who was sacked after the match. Despite the result though, Doncaster Rovers still find themselves second from bottom and the Clarets will need to keep them firmly in the relegation dogfight by coming away with three points and getting back on track after this Boxing Day blip.

At least the defeat yesterday did not affect our position in the table and we remain in 4th place although the chasing pack made some ground. Preston now in 7th place are just three points behind the Clarets which should focus all our minds. We are also now seven points behind the second and third placed clubs, Reading and Birmingham so need to bridge that gap if we are to be in with a chance of automatic promotion.

There was good news for Clarets fans at the start of the match yesterday with both Wade Elliott and Kevin McDonald proclaimed fit and named in the sixteen. Elliott was in the starting eleven and McDonald was on the bench. Coyle therefore had a full squad to choose from except for Kalvenes who is still on the slow road to recovery from a leg injury that has kept him out of action since October.

Coyle opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation with Gudjonsson making way for Elliott. This was the only change from the starting eleven that faced Bristol City at Ashton Gate in our last match.

We lined up therefore as follows:

Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson

Subs: Penny, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Thompson

Before the start of the game, there was a tribute to former Clarets player, Ray Deakin, who sadly lost his battle with cancer this week and Clarets fans contributed to a moving minute’s applause.

Cheshire referee, Scott Matheson then got the match underway as the Clarets kicked-off.

I am sure Owen Coyle would not have allowed his lads to stuff themselves with Turkey and Plum Duff on Christmas Day, but that`s what they looked like they had done in the opening period of this game. We were simply not at the races and it was no surprise when the Tykes took the lead with only 6 minutes on the clock.

Cureton picked up the ball to shoot past Jensen from 20 yards out and the goal stood despite a suspicion of offside. The assistant referee (still linesman to me) though had not raised a flag and Barnsley had once more scored against the Clarets for the tenth consecutive time.

The Clarets had come from behind to win six times this season and we would now have to make it seven. The pace and determination from the Clarets though would have to be stepped up a gear or two and so far this didn`t look likely.

The referee however seemed determined to give all the decisions to Barnsley which didn`t help and he also bizarrely decided to do away with the multi-ball system after 10 minutes of play, something that would frustrate the Clarets in the second half with Barnsley finding numerous single ball ways of wasting time to keep hold of their lead.

After 12 minutes, Blake`s corner found the head of Caldwell but the ball hit the side netting.

Burnley then strongly appealed for a penalty after 17 minutes when Kozluk appeared to foul Elliott but another refereeing decision went the way of Barnsley. Nine minutes later and Elliott would have been better passing to Paterson on his right after charging through midfield, but instead he blasted the ball over.

Barnsley keeper Heinz Muller got his fingertips to the ball from a Blake free kick on 31 minutes with the Clarets now entering their best spell of the game and the pressure finally paid off seven minutes later. Blake left Darren Moore for dead and his lethal precise cross to the far post found Chris McCann who slotted home to make it 1-1. It was the Clarets who now scented blood as they finally began to turn the screw on the Barnsley defence.

Two minutes after the equaliser, Eagles shot after a nice one-two with Paterson only to see Muller pull off a fine save. McCann then came close after a deft free-kick but his shot was blocked.

The Clarets really should have taken the lead though when Eagles somehow missed from five yards out on 42 minutes.

He screwed his shot wide after Paterson down the left had done all the hard work.

In hindsight this would be the miss we really would regret come the final whistle and had we scored, the story would probably have been totally different and would have demoralised the Tykes just before half-time.

It was not to be though and 1-1 it was at half-time.

Coyle`s ploy of not tending to make changes at half-time was repeated again for the start of the second half and the Clarets continued where they had left off looking the brighter of the two teams.

Eagles from a free-kick on 47 minutes put his shot just wide of the far post and then at the other end Jensen came to the rescue saving a Campbell-Ryce shot with his legs after 50 minutes of play. The Clarets immediately then came forward on the counter-attack only for Blake to shoot over the bar.

Jordan, playing his 100th League game then came unstuck picking up his 5th yellow of the season ensuring he will now miss the FA Cup clash at Loftus Road. Coyle will now be hoping Kalvenes will be fit in time for the third round tie.

Coyle then decided to make a change bringing on Thompson for Blake to try and get the winner only to find two minutes we were behind again.

Campbell-Ryce put over what looked like a pretty tame cross but the ball hit McCann (although some thought it was Caldwell) to get a wicked deflection into the far corner giving Jensen no chance.

Although we had seemed to be dominating the second half, it was the Tykes who had taken the advantage and after their second goal we didn`t seem to have much to offer.

Coyle tried to revert to a more attacking formation by bringing on Kevin McDonald for Clarke Carlisle on 78 minutes but even the more aggressive 4-4-2 would not pay dividends.

The lack of the multi-ball system was by now really infuriating the Clarets with Barnsley trying all sorts of tactics to wind down the clock. The announcement of five minutes of added time though was a reflection of some of the single ball time wasting antics but it was to be no advantage to the Clarets and it just wasn`t going to be our day.

We just have to consign this bad result to history. Eight times out of ten we would have defeated Barnsley based on our form this season. Twice this season that form has deserted us, against the same team!

Our standards were nowhere near good enough for a side pushing for promotion. Why do we always struggle against teams in the bottom half of the table? Let`s make sure it doesn`t happen again this Sunday against lowly Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat


Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle (McDonald 78), Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Alexander, McCann, Eagles, Paterson, Blake (Thompson 65).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Gudjonsson, Mahon.

Booked: Jordan.

Goals: McCann 38.

Barnsley: Muller, Van Homoet, Foster, Moore, Kozluk, Campbell-Ryce, Hassell, De Silva, Leon (Colace 58), Cureton (Odejayi 82), Macken (Rigters 72).

Subs Not Used: El Haimour, Guedes.

Booked: Moore.

Goals: Cureton 6, McCann 67 og.

Ref: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).