Date: 15th July 2007 at 10:15am
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The Clarets played in their first pre-season friendly yesterday as they travelled to the Fraser Eagle Stadium for their traditional game against Accrington Stanley. Always difficult to understand the meaning of any results from these sorts of games and both teams in this match were widely experimenting with tactics and checking out how their new signings and trialists were coming along. The goals, one for each team, were basically sloppy affairs with Accy going ahead after only 5 minutes and the Clarets equalising with a few minutes remaining thanks to a soft, deflected goal by returning hero, Robbie Blake. So a final score of 1:1, perhaps on paper, slightly disappointing .Lets however not read too much into this score-line, at times it seemed a bizarre match with Accrington completely changing their team at half-time (apart from one player) whilst introducing god knows how many trialists, one of whom simply went by the name of Victor ( I dont believe it!!). The Clarets also did some bizarre things with both Ade and Robbie starting the match, then being substituted at half-time and then both coming on again later in the second half. At one stage we had Akinbiyi, Blake, Gray and Lafferty all playing at the same time in what looked to be some sort of 5:4:3 formation! Mahon also featured twice in the match.

The bizarre goings on, on the pitch were also reflected off the pitch. In a small corner of the ground there was a section of Partick Thistle fans who had made the journey south to see one of their former players turn out for Accy!! Good on them though, true Footy supporters helping to boost the crowd gate to a commendable 3225.

Before this match we were informed that all the squad with the exception of Garreth O’Connor (training at Bournemouth with a potential loan in mind) would be available for the match. In practice, Steve Jones, Joey Gudjonnson and Wayne Thomas were not named in the squad although some of them could be spotted with their team mates at the match. It would appear the gaffer was playing safe as the players had picked up slight knocks. We also had a triallist of our own who was named in the squad, one Abdilla Kanara. This was the French trialist and defender. He featured later in the second half replacing Harley at left back. All the new signings were on display at some point in this match with Kiraly starting in goal, Berisha coming on for the second half and Robbie Blake having two stints and getting a goal! Good to see Robbie back in Claret & Blue!

In a very confusing number of team changes during the match, the best way of summarising it would be to simply put up the line-ups for the first and second half for the Clarets and save a few paragraphs explaining them all so I will!!

Burnley (first half):

Kiraly, Foster, Duff, Caldwell, Harley, Elliott, Spicer, McCann (J O’Connor 21), Mahon, Akinbiyi, Blake.

Subs: Jensen, Gray, Lafferty, Rodriguez, Berisha

Burnley (second half):

Jensen, Duff, Foster (Mahon 77), Caldwell, Harley (Kanara 70), Elliott (Akinbiyi 85), Spicer (Blake 77), J O’Connor, Berisha, Lafferty, Gray

Although this game was of little consequence and just an opportunity for experimentation and shaking off the cobwebs Accrington Stanley seemed fired up the most and were out of the blocks quickly at the start of the match as thought their lives depended on it!

Boco shot over the bar in the first minute and, three minutes later one of their numerous trialists, Walker found the back of the net with a soft goal with some dubious defending by the Clarets

Alan Mahon nearly equalised in the 10th minute following a Duff cross to the far post but headed wide in front of goal with the keeper in another world!

The new lean, mean Ade Akinbiyi had some early chances to get on the score sheet but they came to nothing

Kiraly was back in action in the 20th minute cleverly tipping over a shot from one of the Accy trialists from a 35 yard free kick.

A few minutes later Alan Mahon put in a cross from the left wing but it bounced off Akinbiyi’s shin straight to the Reds keeper, Dunbavin.

The best opportunity for the Clarets came in the 37th minute following a craftily taken free kick.

Mahon looked like he was going to cross the ball, but instead he found Blake down the left who put in a cross into the six yard box. Foster got on the end of it but his shot hit the Accy keeper and the ball was scrambled away.

McCann limped off injured with James O’Connor replacing him in midfield. Ginge then quickly took a free kick from the edge of the area only to see it cleared off the line by Peter Cavanagh., the Accy skipper.

By now the match seemed to be all Clarets but as the half-time whistle went Accrington Stanley had maintained their 1-0 lead

Widespread changes were made for the second half by both teams and the Clarets fans now had a chance to see for the first time how our Albanian International, Berisha would bear-up.

He nearly had a dream start after Elliott went on a charge down the full length of the field on the right before crossing. This was only half-cleared to Berisha who attempted a volley but he miscued and skied it!

Berisha also came close after Kyle Lafferty put in a cross to the far post. By now he was looking particularly lively much to the delight of the Clarets fans.

The match however was not a great spectacle to watch and seemed to deteriorate even more in the second-half.

Clarets’ trialist Abdilla Kanara came on for Jon Harley at left back after 70 minutes. to be followed by the returning Blake and Mahon about seven minutes later.

Berisha switched to the right with Blake playing behind Gray and Lafferty. A low shot from Lafferty was saved, soon after the team reshuffle.

Ade Akinbiyi then came on again to play out the final five minutes, replacing Wade Elliott.

Just as the game seemed to be petering out, Robbie Blake found the net in the 87th minute. His attempted chip bounced off Gray and over the line. Not a classic goal but Robbie was back on the score sheet for the Clarets again

That was really the final action of the match and the game came to an end finishing 1-1 and a fair result all round.

Wrexham away next Tuesday night before we face Middlesboro at the Turf on Saturday followed one week later by the Leeds friendly. Rather an interesting match now that we have Robbie back playing against his former club.

Anyway not a bad start to the pre-season friendlies, some encouraging signs especially from Berisha and Blake so lets not have anybody worrying about the scoreline against lowly League 2 opposition.

The friendly results over the weekend speak volumes in relation to what the expectations from these sorts of matches can be, crowned probably by the fascinating scoreline of Bamber Bridge 6-2 Preston