The Clarets brushed aside League 2 minnows Burton Albion in the FA Cup 4th round clash at Turf Moor on Saturday to comfortably progress to the 5th round draw. There was the first time we had ever played the Staffordshire club and it would be no fairytale ending for Paul Peschisolido`s men with thankfully also no banana skins for the Clarets.
Burnley came out eventual winners 3-1.
The performance could best be described as workmanlike without breaking sweat and hitting top gear. Had we done so, the result may have been even more convincing. We seemed to play at their level to be honest but never really looked threatened apart from a few brief collywobbles after Burton pulled a goal back to make the score 2-1 with ten minutes to go. A draw and a replay was the least thing we needed in view of our current hectic league schedule in January and February. It was a great relief therefore when substitute Martin Paterson, making his first appearance since November sealed victory after getting the third goal in the 4th minute of added time.
Chris Eagles was on fire for most of the match and the Burton defence simply could not handle him. He could have got a panful of goals but in the end had to settle for a brace. Burnley led 1-0 at half-time thanks to the Eagles opener after 29 minutes following some excellent work by Jack Cork.
It was perhaps frustrating we were only leading by the one goal at the break but we were in control to be honest and that situation continued into the second-half. Burnley doubled their lead on 70 minutes, with that man Eagles doing the damage from close-range.
With the Clarets seemingly cruising to victory, Burton stepped-up to the plate to try and spoil the party reducing the arrears on 80 minutes. Debutant Calvin Zola pulled a goal back for the Brewers with a clever finish making things a little nervy for the Clarets fans in the final few minutes of the game before Pato thumped home the third to make it relax and breathe time for the home crowd.
This was the first game in charge at home for new gaffer, Eddie Howe and after being announced over the tannoy, he got a tremendous welcome from the home contingent as he made his way to the dugout for the start of this match. New signing Charlie Austin too, cup-tied for this game also got a good reception after being announced at half-time. He had been watching the match from the Director`s Box in the Bob Lord Stand before walking on the pitch at the break to receive the applause.
Eddie Howe made just one change to the side that had beaten Portsmouth away earlier in the week. Martin Paterson was named on the bench. It was a welcome return for Pato after being sidelined with a niggling thigh problem since the Doncaster Rovers game at Turf Moor last November when he had to be substituted at half-time.
Clarets fans may have expected more changes from Howe and there was some thought that Brian Jensen may have been given a game after agreeing to come off the transfer list in midweek. In the end though, Lee Grant kept his place. The Clarets lined up 4-4-2 with Eagles having more of a roaming midfield role. Steven Thompson was preferred up front despite news this week he was seeing a specialist concerning a persistent groin problem. Chris Iwelumo, strongly linked with a move to Preston following the signing of Austin had to be content with a place on the bench.
Our eighteen then was as follows:
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Elliott, Rodriguez, Thompson
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Edgar, Alexander, Wallace, Iwelumo, Paterson
Referee Jon Moss (West Yorkshire) got the game underway in front of a lively away contingent with the Clarets fans perhaps somewhat subdued although lifted by seeing Eddie Howe walk on the pitch.
Burnley came storming out of the blocks looking like they wanted to put this game to bed as early as possible. The Burton wall got in the way of an Eagles free-kick before the on-fire midfielder in his new, more central role got in a shot that went just wide. Danny Fox then almost literally ‘foxed` Brewers` keeper, Andy Legzdins from a free-kick with the keeper nearly spilling the ball into his own net.
Burton though looked a plucky outfit and were probably benefitting from a long rest following postponed games and a lack of midweek action unlike the Clarets. Left-back, Scott Malone looked a threat down the flank and after being fouled by Carlisle, who was subsequently booked, he took the free-kick with his curling shot hitting the bar with just 20 minutes played.
The Clarets badly needed a goal to boost confidence and avoid the ever increasing feeling that a banana skin could be just around the corner. It came on the half-hour mark and it all started with a dazzling run from Jack Cork. Eagles picked up the ball before brilliantly charging his way past three defenders into the penalty area. Mr Cool then slotted home into the bottom of the net to put the Clarets 1-0 up.
In a way though, Burnley then let Burton off the hook letting them come at them and failing to go further ahead in the first half. They should really have been more clinical and put the game beyond the Brewers reach before half-time.
Jay Rodriguez seemed to be having a bit of an off-day and should have been quicker to react when a chance went begging in the penalty area. Marney though linked well with Jay Rod in a pacy attack that eventually gave Steven Thompson a goal-scoring opportunity. Legzdins, though was equal to the shot and saved the day for the minnows who must have been happy going into the break only one goal down.
Howe made no changes for the start of the second half and for a time the Clarets seemed to be frustrated by the Brewers being unable to double their lead. Within a minute of the restart the Clarets indeed got a shock when Webster at the near post nearly got on the end of a Corbett cross.
Carlisle came close with an header from a Fox cross but he put the ball wide.
With the hour mark passing and the Clarets holding on to a slender lead, it was time for Howe to freshen up a bit and try and put this game beyond Burton`s reach.
In a double substitution on came first Iwelumo to replace Thompson and then Wallace for Rodriguez.
Wallace perhaps surprisingly was now out on the right flank but he could now cut in to shoot with his preferred left peg! He let rip too within 8 minutes of coming on with a shot that looked like a dead cert for the far corner before the Brewers keeper dived to his right to save well.
A little bit of farce though from the keeper then led to our second goal after 70 minutes of play. His goal-kick hit his own defender, Darren Moore and the ball fell nicely to Cork who released the lively Wallace. His cross found Iwelumo at the far post but the angle was not the best and the Scot could not direct his header on target. Eagles though pounced to score from close range and get his second of the afternoon. 2-0 Clarets so perhaps now Burton would fold? Sadly not and within ten minutes they had pulled one back to set up a nervy finish. A good cross from Malone found Zola who pounced to steer home a shot and score via the underside of the bar.
Burton fans now dreamt they could get back into this game and their team began to play with some self-belief. With seven minutes to go their dream nearly came true when Adam Bolder slipped the ball to substitute, Greg Pearson who managed to get in an angled shot before an alert Lee Grant came to the rescue and saved it.
Deep into added time though, Paterson who had come on to replace Elliott in the 73rd minute made it a great return after such a long lay-off by getting on the score sheet to make it game over for the brave Brewers. A Wallace free-kick found Paterson who side-footed home.
So that was it, a fairly easy ride to the fifth round with the draw announced later this Sunday. This is the second time in six years we have reached the 5th round so all Clarets fans will be hoping we can progress even further. It would be nice to get a juicy tie at this stage, one that really gets the crowd going and one that adds money to the coffers. Do we really want to play Crawley Town? Not for me, I want to see two teams more equally matched or the Clarets the underdogs in a match played either way in a great atmosphere! Bring on Man U at home or even Bolton if they can get past Wigan in the replay
Burnley: Grant, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Cork, Marney, Elliott, (Paterson 73), Eagles, Rodriguez (Wallace 62), Thompson (Iwelumo 61)
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Alexander, Edgar, Bikey
Goals: Eagles 29 and 70, Paterson 90+4
Booked: Yellow cards for Carlisle and Marney
Burton Albion: Legzdins, Webster (Young 64), Stanton, Moore, Corbett (Austin 88), Malone, McGrath (Pearson 65), Penn, Maghoma, Bolder, Zola
Subs Not Used: Poole, Boertien, James, Phillips
Goal: Zola 80
Possession: 54% Burnley, 46% Burton Albion (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)