Date: 14th December 2008 at 3:51pm
Written by:

Burnley beat Southampton at Turf Moor yesterday to consolidate their 4th place position. They made hard work of it though after appearing to be cruising to victory. The Clarets were 3-0 up with just eleven minutes of the game played but then rather reminiscent of the recent home game against Derby seemed to take their foot off the accelerator and lose concentration.

Unlike in the Derby match though the Clarets looked determined to then do a Barnsley by allowing the Saints to pull two goals back. Both their goals came in the first 20 minutes of the second half. We just couldn`t seem to string two passes together in that nervy first 30 minutes of the second half and for a time, with their tails up, the Saints looked like they would get the equaliser with the Burnley defence crumbling and making some basic schoolboy errors.

Thankfully though the Clarets seemed to regain some composure and although the Saints still looked a threat on the break we held on to secure an important 3-2 victory and gain another three points.

The win means we now have 40 points just six behind Reading in third but more importantly just seven behind second place Birmingham. Brum were beaten 1-0 away by local rivals Preston in the late televised game yesterday but it does mean that Burnley remain in touch with the automatic promotion places let alone the play-offs spots.

Preston though are now in 6th spot three behind the Clarets which puts into perspective again how important the victory against Southampton was for the team and fans yesterday.

Both Michael Duff and Kevin McDonald failed to make the sixteen due to injury but there was some good news on the injury front for Owen Coyle with Chris McCann returning to the starting eleven after a bout of illness.

The Clarets therefore lined up 4-4-2 as follows:

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

Subs: Penny, Mahon, MacDonald, Akinbiyi, Thompson

Referee Phil Dowd got the game underway and the Clarets came storming out of the traps giving no time at all for Southampton to settle. Burnley nearly took the lead after two minutes. Paterson danced into the visitor`s box to unleash a shot which hit the underside of the crossbar.

Two minutes later though and the Clarets were ahead thanks to an own goal after a cross by Wade Elliott got a deflection off Saints defender Chris Perry. Southampton keeper, Kelvin Davis stood no chance and it was 1-0.

A Blake free kick had to be turned round the post for a corner by the keeper after 5 minutes. As the corner came over, Caldwell tried to head home at the far post but the keeper looked to have saved the attempt before spilling the ball to Gudjonsson who nodded the ball into the back of the net to put the Clarets 2-0 up.

By now Southampton didn`t know what had hit them as the Clarets piled on the pressure with some delightful attacking moves and amazingly we soon found ourselves 3-0 up with just 11 minutes on the clock.

Paterson got in a delightful pass to Elliott and Gudjonsson side footed home his cross to get his second of the afternoon.

3-0 and just eleven minutes on the clock, surely a tonking was about to happen? Well maybe we should have made it 4-0 on 20 minutes. Davis saved a shot from McCann but the ball landed at the feet of Paterson. He let rip from close range but the ball hit the top of the post.

Eagles then tried a long-range shot which was well saved by Davis on 24 minutes and by now all the action seemed to be taking place in the one half, Southampton`s!

Alexander found Paterson from a free kick but the Northern Ireland international`s shot was again saved by the busy Davis.

The Saints for the remainder of the half perhaps at long last began to get their act together and they did start to pass the ball around a bit without really ever testing our keeper. There were however worrying signs that we might not get things all our own way in the second half and the parallels with the Derby County match began to pray on the minds of Clarets fans.

The Clarets just couldn`t get that extra goal or two that would have guaranteed complete comfort although they would have been happy with their first half performance.

Saints gaffer, Jan Poortvlie would need a miracle to come back from 3-0 down at half-time and would certainly need to motivate and inspire his players.

Whatever he said at half-time almost worked with the classic game of two halves about to unravel.

Southampton started the far brighter of the two teams in the second half with the Clarets appearing to rest on their laurels.

The Saints had pulled a goal back within 3 minutes of the start of the second half after putting the Clarets under pressure and you could argue that our defence should have been tighter.

Skacel from just inside the penalty area shot home after some sustained Saints pressure in the box.

The Clarets now looked a little lacklustre and couldn`t seem to regain their attacking flair of the first half although Caldwell came close from a Blake free kick after 53 minutes. His header though went just wide of the upright.

Seven minutes later and Southampton ensured that it was still game on by remarkably and rather frustratingly for Clarets fans getting a second. Jensen was beaten at the far corner by a shot from Surman in the box.

3-2 with Clarets fans now fearing the worst. Would the collapse be complete or could the Clarets weather the storm? Southampton had not lost at the Turf in the last four games and had won their last two. Surely we were not going to let that happen again, this time by a team fourth from bottom at the start of this match?

Coyle had decided to try and stop the rot by replacing Blake with Thompson after 64 minutes and you could see the frustrations on Blake`s face has he traipsed towards the dugout.

Southampton with their tails up though now looked the most likely team to score next with Burnley in all sorts of disarray and beginning to flap and panic in defence.

Somehow though to their credit, the Clarets got their minds into gear again and gradually got back into the game with more chances at long last coming their way.

It would have a far less nervy final 15 minutes though if Thompson had scored from a Paterson cross after 75 minutes. Davis though somehow got to his close range shot to deny the former Cardiff striker.

It was Davis again four minutes later who this time turned a shot round the post from Eagles.

Finally and to some relief the final whistle went with the Clarets coming out in the end worthy 3-2 winners reversing the result from the last two matches against Southampton at the Turf Moor.

Owen Coyle had this to say about the game after:

‘There’s no doubt we deserved to win. There was an anxious 20 minutes after half-time but Brian Jensen never had a save to make.

‘We could have had scored four or five and I think overall the score line flattered them.”

Not too sure as a fan I totally agree with some of those sentiments, and looking at the way Owen reacted after the Saints goals went in, I hope he had a few harsh words to say in private after the game. My nerves were shattered at the end of this match and the relief was immeasurable.


Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Eagles (Mahon 90), Paterson (Akinbiyi 90), Blake (Thompson 64).

Subs Not Used: Penny, MacDonald.

Booked: Carlisle, Thompson.

Goals: Perry 4 og, Gudjonsson 7, 11.

Southampton: Davis, James (Robertson 84), Perry, Cork, Skacel, Surman, Schneiderlin (Pearce 35), Lallana, Euell, McGoldrick, Wright-Phillips.

Subs Not Used: Forecast, Wotton, Gasmi.

Booked: James, Pearce, Skacel.

Goals: Skacel 49, Surman 61.

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).