Date: 7th October 2012 at 11:59am
Written by:

It was a miserable day out in South London for the Clarets. They surrendered a two goal lead against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday and then found they were chasing the game at 4-2 down before Austin made the final score look a little more respectable at 4-3. Burnley can certainly score this season but their woeful defence is leaking goals like the clappers. The end result is that the Clarets are now looking over their shoulder, low on confidence at a relegation battle unless they can somehow find some inner reserve and start to play with some consistency and tighten up their defence. Burnley are now in 16th place with just eleven points from ten games, ominously just three points away from the bottom three. Eddie Howe has mountains to climb if he is to see this team show any signs of improvement and he will have to work miracles during the International break to sort out the massive problems in defence and boost confidence ahead of the local derby against promotion-chasing Blackpool at Turf Moor a week next Saturday. It all started so well for the Clarets as well with McCann and Paterson giving Burnley a 2-0 lead with only 29 minutes played. It started to go downhill after that though, with Zaha in particular playing a blinder for the Eagles and giving Trippier the run-around for most of the afternoon. His two goals either side of the break restored the home crowd`s faith and it looked game over for the Clarets when Palace took the lead just past the hour mark and then made it 4-2 with fifteen minutes remaining. It was perhaps even more remarkable that our goal scorers at this stage had not involved Charlie Austin but he popped up and made amends in the 81st minute to score his fifteenth goal of the season. It was never going to be enough though and the Eagles held on to take all three points.

The line-up for the Palace game was based on a five man midfield. McCann, Marney and Bartley played in the centre with Marney protecting the back four. Paterson played a wider role on the right of midfield with Stanislas on the opposite flank. Wallace and Stock who both started in the previous game against the Owls were both dropped to the bench and Duff who also started on Tuesday night was unable to feature due to injury. There was some good news though for Howe with skipper, Jason Shackell deemed fit enough to start after missing the last two games with a knee injury. Our line-up in summary then was as follows:

Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Mee, Paterson, McCann , Marney, Bartley, Stanislas, Austin

Subs: Jensen, Mills, Long, Stock, Stewart, Wallace, Vokes

Burnley came out sporting their new third kit based on white shirts with a claret band and sky blue shorts and socks but it would not prove to be a lucky debutant strip on this occasion. Wilshire referee, Roger East got the game underway on a bright sunny day in London with the Clarets hoping to end the Eagles unbeaten run of six games, a sequence which also involved five wins. The opening fifteen minutes were pretty scrappy to be honest with very little action. Palace were finding it hard to gain any momentum and break down the Clarets five man midfield although they did have an early chance following a long range from danger man Zaha. Lee Grant was forced into a save. Yannick Bolasie also came close with an effort that flew just wide. The Eagles looked like they might just be gaining the upper hand when Burnley got their noses in front in the 26th minute thanks to a defensive blunder by Darcy Blake. His poor header attempting to clear a Trippier cross allowed Stanislas to attempt a curling shot which was pushed onto the post by Speroni. McCann though pounced after timing his run to perfection and latched onto the rebound volleying from eight yards out past a defender on the line to put the Clarets 1-0 up. It got even better for the Clarets three minutes later when they increased their lead. Paterson picking up a pass from Bartley lobbed the keeper from the corner of the penalty area with the ball flying into the far corner of the net. It was great to see Pato on the score sheet again and hopefully that will kick-start his season. He hadn`t scored since the opening day of the season against Bolton. 2-0 then to the Clarets and the match not even 30 minutes old. The Clarets could easily have held on to win the game had they managed to not concede before half-time but poor defending yet again four minutes before the break gave the Eagles a lifeline. A Murray pass exposed the back four deficiencies when Zaha pounced to get the better of Trippier and charging forward thumped the ball past Grant to make it 2-1. Burnley nearly got back their two goal advantage when Austin and Paterson combined well to expose the Palace defence allowing McCann to unleash a shot on target. The ball though on its way into the net cannoned into a defender and the Clarets had to be content with a 2-1 lead at the break.

Neither side made any changes for the start of the second half but now it was Burnley under pressure with the Eagles once again flying high. Seven minutes into the second-half, Palace got their equaliser following some atrocious defending by the Clarets. Burnley are good charging forward but don`t seem to have the ability to defend when the opposition hit back on the break. Once again the defence were caught out after an attacking move by the Clarets. Moritz spotted Zaha in acres of space with the Burnley defence outnumbered. Zaha could not believe his luck and with no defender in sight cut-in to roll the ball past Grant with the hapless Burnley defence chasing back red faced. Austin tried to restore the lead but could not take advantage from a half-chance after a Paterson pull-back but then the defending nightmares continued for the Clarets when the Eagles made it 3-2 in the 66th minute. Burnley once again failed to clear the ball allowing Delaney to pounce and thump home his shot standing on the penalty spot. The Clarets confidence was now shot to pieces and it crumbled even more just ten minutes later after when the rampant Eagles made in 4-2 after Murray got on the end of a low cross to coolly steer the ball inside the far post! The 779 frustrated Clarets fans that had made the journey to South London now had to endure the final fifteen minutes hoping to avoid a tonking acutely conscious of how woeful our defence had been so far. Thankfully, Palace would not score again and Burnley even made a bit of a fight of it in the last nine minutes after Austin scored to make it 4-3 in the 81st minute. Standing just in the penalty area, Austin turned to shoot past the keeper and at least make the score now look respectable. Burnley were now trying everything to get back on level terms and they might have succeeded had the referee accepted Wallace`s claim for a penalty. A driven cross appeared to hit a defender`s arm but the referee waved play on. Despite five minutes of added time and with Burnley now playing 4-4-2 following the substitution of Paterson for Vokes in the 71st minute, the Clarets were unable to make amends for their shocking defensive performance and once again had to come away from Selhurst Park without a win. Palace have now won 4 and drawn five of the last nine clashes on this ground and you have to go back to December 2000 for our last win when Ian Moore got a brace. No team though should allow a two goal lead to slip and somehow we have to find a way of stop leaking goals due to defensive blunders. Burnley have conceded nine goals in the last three league games now and most of those have raised questions about our defence or rather lack of it! We have to correct that and quickly or this could rapidly become a long hard season and finish up a relegation dogfight.

Match Stats

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Blake, Moxey, Delaney, Ramage, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Moritz (Garvan – 83), Bolasie (Williams-64 then Parr-74), Zaha, Murray

Subs Not Used: Price, Ward, Goodwillie, Wilbraham

Goals: Zaha 41 53, Delaney 66, Murray 75

Booked: 0

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Mee, Paterson (Vokes – 71), McCann (Stewart – 71), Marney, Bartley, Stanislas (Wallace-84), Austin

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Mills, Long, Stock

Goals: McCann 26, Paterson 29 Austin 81

Booked: Yellow Cards for Edgar (59) and Trippier (61)

Possession: 55% Palace, 45% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Roger East (Wiltshire)