Date: 21st December 2008 at 9:13am
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The Clarets got an early Christmas present yesterday after securing three points against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. They also came back from 1-0 down after a controversial penalty to win the match 2-1 thanks to second half goals from Paterson and Thompson.

This victory will hopefully be a start in consigning our traditional Christmas slumps to history!

The win further consolidates our 4th place spot and keeps us in contention for automatic promotion never mind the play-offs! We are now just six points behind second place club, Reading who leapfrogged above Birmingham today after defeating them 3-1 at St Andrews.

730 Clarets braved the journey to get to Ashton Gate having probably faced the wrath of their spouses beforehand since this was the final shopping Saturday before Christmas. Well at least they would all return with the best present possible. Three points!

The team sheet contained a surprise omission with Wade Elliott unable to make the sixteen due to a foot injury.

This news meant Coyle would revert back to 4-1-4-1 for the start of the game with Duff returning at right back and Alexander taking up the holding midfield role in front of the back four.

As expected Kevin McDonald was still sidelined with injury so the Clarets lined up as follows:

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

Subs: Penny, Mahon, Akinbiyi, MacDonald, Thompson.

Bristol City, suffering from a number of injuries and suspensions also made a surprise change to their side, with transfer listed Bradley Orr returning at full back.

Clarets fans were not expecting to see their former loan player who made four appearances for the club during Stan Ternent`s reign.

A late change also saw Russell Booth, the Nottinghamshire referee put in charge of his first game of this season and to say he was rusty was an understatement as we shall see with lack of confidence and indecision seemingly the main problem.

He did however just about decide to blow his whistle for the kick-off and it was the home side that seemed to start the brighter although as the match progressed it became a pretty dull affair with neither side really testing the goalkeeper in the first half (The second half was to be a different story though!)

It was City`s Martin McIndoe who had the first real chance but he put his shot well wide of the left hand post after 16 minutes of play.

Gudjonsson was expertly put through by Eagles but the Icelandic midfielder charging towards goal could perhaps have done better with his shot from distance after 20 minutes.

McIndoe got in a sublime cross from just inside the D after 25 minutes and with the Clarets defence looking exposed, we had McCombe to thank for not doing better with his header at the back post. The ball skidded harmlessly wide for a goal kick much to the relief of Jensen.

Our best chance came in the last ten minutes when the game seemed to liven up after a pretty dull first 30 minutes or so. Eagles on 80 minutes let rip from 25 yards out after skilfully beating two defenders but the shot did not test the Robins keeper, Brasso. There was just time after that for Blake to shoot straight at Brasso and then Stern John at the other end to attempt a flicked header. Jensen though had it covered.

Thankfully, the whistle blew for the end of the first half with another 0-0 draw at Ashton Gate, the third for Bristol City this season, looking the most likely result at this stage after a pretty dire performance all round.

The Clarets made no changes for the start of the second half and at long last the match seemed to step up a gear and become more entertaining. It was Alexander who immediately tried to break the deadlock after the start.

Dashing from midfield and charging towards goal, his attempt failed to hit the target with the ball tantalisingly just going over the angle.

Sadly for the Clarets, it was Bristol City who would take the lead in controversial circumstances on 51 minutes.

Carlisle`s clumsy looking challenge on Stern John at the far post was first waved on by referee, Booth. However, he didn`t seem to have the courage of his convictions and overruled his own decision after taking advice from a linesman who had indicated a foul.

A penalty was therefore awarded and Maynard made no mistake from the spot kick despite Jensen guessing the right direction.

That goal though seemed to stir the Clarets into action and almost immediately after they scored, we nearly got an equaliser. Chris McCann poked the ball just wide with his toe after Eagles had charged to the by-line and crossed.

Long gone are the days where being a goal behind often meant there was no way back and Clarets fans could sense at this stage that maybe all was not lost just yet.

Owen Coyle confirmed his intention to attack by bringing on Steven Thompson for Gudjonsson after 55 minutes whilst at the same time moving to a more aggressive 4-4-2 formation with Paterson and Thompson upfront.

The ploy didn`t take too long to work and we were level in the 57th minute. A free-kick was awarded for a handball after Thompson had tried to find Eagles on the right wing. Eagles from the kick found Carlisle at the far post and his header found Paterson to head home from two yards out.

The game by now was unrecognisable compared to the first half and with more and more end to end stuff now evident it was Trundle, a second-half substitute for the Robins who came close with a shot after 60 minutes.

Brasso then saved the day for the Robins with fifteen minutes to go following a scorching Clarets attack. He pulled off a one-handed save from a deflected shot by Eagles after some breathtaking approach work between Duff and Paterson.

Coyle shook the pack around again and brought on Alan Mahon for Blake after 72 minutes with the Clarets now looking for the winner.

It didn`t take long to get the lead either with a superb goal by the Clarets on 77 minutes. Eagles had been feasting on Robins all afternoon and it was the green-booted star player who charged into the area to find Paterson on the right. Pato who had boundless energy all afternoon effortlessly got to the by-line to get in an inch-perfect cross to Thompson who slotted home from 4 yards out.

Bristol City though were not done yet and Jensen in the 88th minute somehow got in a superb save to tip over the ball after Trundle seemed certain to score.

The Clarets had to play out a sweaty three minutes of stoppage time but the three points were ours as the final whistle blew.

We have now won five of the last six games in all competitions and haven`t lost since our 3-2 defeat against Barnsley at Oakwell back in November, co-incidentally the next team we play on Boxing Day at Turf Moor.

It was also the first time since March 1996 that we have beaten Bristol City on their home soil during a season when taboos seem to be tumbling one after the other.

A great start to the festive season for a change, let`s hope this augers well for the remaining games up to the New Year and we can for once plough on in the second half of the season and maintain our challenge for that promotion place.


Bristol City: Basso, Orr (Murray 81), McCombe, Webster, Fontaine, Williams (Trundle 46), Elliott, Johnson (Noble 85), McIndoe, John, Maynard.

Subs Not Used: Akinde, Henderson.

Goals: Maynard 52 pen.

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Eagles (MacDonald 90), Alexander, Gudjonsson (Thompson 55), McCann, Blake (Mahon 72), Paterson.

Subs Not Used: Penny, Akinbiyi.

Goals: Paterson 57, Thompson 77.

Ref: Russell Booth (Nottinghamshire).