Date: 4th March 2009 at 1:01pm
Written by:

The Clarets knew at the start of the match against Blackpool last night at Bloomfield Road that this was a must win game if they were to get their play-offs hopes back on track. On a cold and blustery night in Blackpool, it was soon evident it was not just a must win but also a much wind game, with the gusts at times making the playing conditions farcical. One has to also pity the poor Clarets fans. 1072 Clarets had braved the short journey to the coast to fork out an outrageous £26 to sit in a wobbly, exposed golf stand in this ramshackle ground. With no covered roof for protection, the howling cold winds and damp conditions gave little comfort to our loyal, brave fans. Their bodies and souls though were eventually warmed by the only goal and winning goal five minutes from time by Christian Kalvenes of all players, to give the Clarets a 1-0 victory and three valuable points.

At one point the winds sweeping round the ground were so severe the goalkeepers couldn`t place the ball down without it running off. In one farcical moment of the game, Jensen must have tried half a dozen times to take a goal kick, only for gusts to have a final say in the matter. The referee clearly had one eye on possibly abandoning the game conditions were so bad and after 22 minutes of play called managers and officials together to decide whether to continue. Not only was there concern for the lack of ability to play football in these conditions but also for the wellbeing and safety of the fans, especially the exposed Clarets jumping up and down to keep warm in that rickety stand that could well have collapsed looking at its condition.

They decided to continue though and to be fair the conditions were the same for both sides but it meant that football became both a farce and a lottery with the chances of fluke goals greatly increased. The game accordingly suffered with little action and to be honest it was a dire match.

In the end though, it did not matter. The Clarets had their first win away from home in nine matches and their first double of the season to celebrate after that winner from Kalvenes, the goal actually our 50th of the season.

The victory moved us up to 7th in the table on 55 points; just one point now behind 5th placed Preston who obligingly lost away to strugglers, Nottingham Forest last night. Only six points now separate 10th placed Ipswich and 4th placed Cardiff, so it really is tight up there and a number of clubs have games in hand over the Clarets and a far better goal difference. Nevertheless we are now still in with a chance despite the doom and gloom of Saturday and that heavy 4-2 home defeat by the Owls.

If this was a must win game for the Clarets, it was also a must win game for Blackpool with the relegation places nervously staring at them before the start of this match with the Tangerines in 20th place. Sadly for them, this defeat plus other struggling clubs winning ensures they are now well and truly in a relegation battle. They remain in 20th spot but on just 39 points are now just two clear of third from bottom club Southampton who also have a game in hand. Although they are our local rivals and their fans do tend to give us the verbals sometimes, I wish Blackpool all the best and hope they avoid the drop. Their fans are demoralised at the moment, they have an arrogant uncaring Chairman who charges the fans the earth to watch dire football in a dire three-sided stadium with a caretaker manager in charge. Oh well thank god there are clubs far worse off than ourselves.

Owen Coyle had made it plain he would ring the changes for this local derby after the debacle against Sheffield Wednesday at Turf Moor last Saturday. True to his word he did, but maybe not the kind the fans might have predicted. He made four changes altogether. Duff and Jordan were dropped from the sixteen to be replaced maybe surprisingly by Clarke Carlisle and Christian Kalvenes. Wade Elliott and Steven Thompson also had to be content with a place on the bench with their places in the starting eleven taken by Chris Eagles and Kevin McDonald.

Coyle certainly likes to play Pato despite him looking off the pace and jaded in the last few games and so it proved again with Paterson being named as the sole striker up front in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Alexander once more in the holding midfield role.

In summary therefore we lined up as follows:

Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, McDonald, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Elliott, Rodriguez, Thompson

Lancashire referee, Lee Mason could have let the wind blow his whistle for the start of this match as crisp packets, sand, old fish and chip papers, half-eaten burgers, empty cans and the odd donkey flew across the pitch caught up in the howling gales.

With the match just underway, it was Blackpool who nearly took a shock early lead. The wind generously assisted a cross by Danny Coid for Claus Jorgensen to head inches wide of the post with the ball taking a deflection for a corner. As the ball came over from the corner, with the wind playing tricks again it hung in the air giving Jensen no option but to punch the ball away from under the crossbar.

The first Clarets attack led to McDonald trying to curl the ball into the net with Blackpool`s keeper Paul Rachubka looking troubled. After 10 minutes the Clarets were awarded a free kick duly taken by Robbie Blake. The Blackpool defence were caught napping, failing to clear the ball which fell to McDonald to shoot on target before the ball was cleared off the line. Paterson picked up the loose ball but slipped just as he was about to shoot thus ensuring his weak effort could be headed off the line.

The Clarets seemed in all honesty to be playing the wrong tactics in this wind-affected match. They should have adapted better to the conditions and maybe tried more speculative shots from distance rather than try the passing game which often broke down thanks to the gusts. In this wind anything could happen to shots wellied towards goal!

This farce of a game became an even bigger joke on 15 minutes. Jensen couldn`t get the ball to stay put and must have tried about six times to take a goal kick before seeing the ball roll away each time with some sort of litter stuck to it. Steven Caldwell, playing in his 200th league game looked to have handled the ball after it hit his arm on 18 minutes following a DJ Campbell cross but thankfully the referee in an ideal position turned away the penalty appeals.

Now it was the Blackpool keeper`s turn to try and hit the ball from a goal kick before the wind took hold and there was further delay until he finally managed it. Could the game now be abandoned? I don`t think at this point either set of fans would have worried. A replay on another day would not be too arduous in view of the short distance involved for travelling fans. Perhaps it would be fairer with both teams in a must win situation and the wind-affected game now becoming an unfair lottery with footballing skills and entertainment almost becoming impossible.

The referee must have thought it was an option to abandon the game and spoke to both managers and officials after 22 minutes but we played on.

With 30 minutes played Taylor-Fletcher got the better of Kalvenes but should have done better by passing the ball to his team mates in better positions rather than fire across goal.

By now the match was farcical and there was no further action in the first half with conditions ensuring that the match was almost unplayable.

There was to be no abandonment though as both sides came out unchanged for the start of the second half and thankfully as the second half progressed, the wind did die down a bit and allow some football to be played.

Owen Coyle changed things around after 56 minutes bringing on Wade Elliott for Robbie Blake. This was clearly not the night for Blake with the conditions affecting his passing game.

Rachubka had to save from Paterson after being put clear by McDonald, Pato`s shot nearly sliding under the advancing keeper. That was Pato`s last action with Thompson coming on to replace him on the hour mark. It looked like Paterson was injured and indeed we now know he picked up a dead leg.

Blackpool substitute Roy O’Donovan on 66 minutes then attempted a wind-assisted shot from distance from 40 yards, something maybe the Clarets should have tried more in the first half. Jensen though was equal to the shot and parried it round the post.

With a 0-0 score line looking more and more the likely end result, both sides looked to be struggling under the conditions and the game was still pretty dire until about the 75th minute when things seemed to liven up with a little bit of end to end football.

Eagles in the 78th minute jiggled his way into the box eventually getting the ball to McDonald to shoot only for the keeper to save well.

Jensen then spooned a ball following a shot by Jorgenson with DJ Campbell unable to get onto the rebound.

Any Clarets thoughts that the match should have been abandoned earlier were put to one side when the Clarets took the lead with five minutes to go. Chris McCann found the advancing full-back, Kalvenes who turned into a striker and made no mistake slotting the ball underneath the keeper to put the Clarets 1-0 up.

That goal took the stuffing out of the Blackpool team and was enough to secure all three points as the final whistle went. So in the end, this was a very productive night for the Clarets despite the very poor weather conditions with a good three points in the bag whilst ensuring our play-offs hopes were back on track. Our first double of the season and one against our local rivals certainly seems sweet this morning after a victory at Bloomfield Road for the first time since 1999. This victory is also ample revenge for that torrid 3-0 defeat in Blackpool on New Year`s Day 2008 last season. Well done lads!


Blackpool: Rachubka, Coid, Barker, Baptiste, Crainey, Taylor-Fletcher (O’Donovan 60), Jorgensen, Adam (Owens 82), Vaughan, Campbell, Ormerod (Blackman 65).

Subs Not Used: Gilks, Southern.

Booked: Barker, Crainey, Jorgensen.

Burnley: Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald (Rodriguez 84), McCann, Blake (Elliott 56), Paterson (Thompson 60).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Gudjonsson.

Booked: Kalvenes, McDonald.

Goals: Kalvenes 85.

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).