Date: 31st March 2010 at 10:06am
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Cuban Claret provides his thoughts on the Rovers derby last Sunday and reflects on the implications of the defeat.

Penalty Scandal takes Burnley to the Brink

BURNLEY have one foot dangling back in the Championship after a scandalous penalty decision turned the destiny of the 168th East Lancashire derby in the favour of Blackburn Rovers.

Given the way the Clarets’ fortunes have faltered since Owen Coyle ditched his club at the altar of a promising fledgling season in the top flight,there was a sense of weary predictability that the outcome of this match would hinge on such a controversial incident.

Having had a ‘goal’ chalked off for offside two minutes earlier, Blackburn’s Martin Olsson went to ground under the force of a phantom foul so difficult to discern that referee Mike Dean did not even know who had committed it. That was the reason he gave to Sam Allardyce for sending off neither Tyrone Mears nor Brian Jensen.

You really couldn’t make it up.

It is fair to say though, despite Olsson’s cheating,that the points were taken by the better team on the day.The visitors were organised, disciplined and the more focused side throughout,a true image of a manager many Rovers supporters wanted sacked a few short months ago. And in the versatile Olsson, they had the game’s outstanding player.

Typical too that Burnley would save it until now,our 15th home game in the league,to draw a blank.

Again, Blackburn’s impressive defensive unit,in which Gael Givet was particularly commanding,gave our attacking players little to feed off. With a lead to defend,the Rovers men repeatedly put their bodies on the line and the Clarets lacked the liquidity in attack prevalent in the recent past.

Brian Laws opted for naming the same team that performed well at Wigan. Fair enough on paper, but this line-up was more suited to containment rather that creativity. At home in a must-win game,it was all to easy for the visitors to get on the front foot.In this observer’s opinion, it was folly not to play Robbie Blake.

After some encouraging early exchanges where David Nugent looked to have the better of the ageing Miguel Salgado down Burnley’s left flank,Rovers countered with a couple of enticing set-pieces on the edge of Burnley’s penalty box but Morten Pedersen twice could only find the Burnley wall while Jensen looked vulnerable. The Burnley ‘keeper was alert to thwart the slippery Olsson with a save at his feet before the same player hit the back of the net but was flagged for offside.

Allardyce contested this decision afterwards but television pictures were not conclusive.

No matter. Two wrongs don’t make a right and there is no doubt that Mike Dean,who memorably refereed Burnley’s play-off final with Sheffield United (waving away two strong penalty appeals from our opponents that day ironically enough),got the game’s defining decision horribly wrong.

David Dunn nailed the penalty right into Jensen’s top right hand corner.

While the deflation in the stands was palpable,the visiting fans appeared to be enjoying the rarity of a 2,000+ away day out.

A decent Burnley move saw Paterson and Fletcher combine well to play in Elliott but he was upended crudely by Christoper Samba for which the big defender was instantly yellow carded. The offence occured right on the edge of the penalty box and had a penalty been given, there could have been no argument, but a free-kick it was and Rovers cleared the resulting danger.

Burnley’s best opportunity of the half fell to Leon Cort three minutes before half-time when Alexander cleverly picked him out from a free-kick.The lanky defender controlled the ball smartly on his chest before angling a shot narrowly wide.

It was the last chance of a disappointing half which ended with an injury to Stephen Jordan, who was replaced by Danny Fox at left-back.

Burnley showed much more urgency at the start of the second half, typified when Fletcher scampered after an under-hit back pass only for Brown to deny him. Paterson turned a shot into Brown’s arms after good work by Mears before being replaced by Robbie Blake.

Kevin McDonald was becoming the game’s most influential central midfielder as Dunn visibly faded.On the hour the young Scot produced a wonderful sliding tackle in the middle of the park before tee-ing up Fletcher but he failed to get a decent shot away.

A goal at the other end was just as likely, however, as play stretched from end to end. From an uncleared free-kick,Olsson struck a terrific shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the penalty box. Jones was first to the follow-up but the young defender headed wide.

With Chris Eagles on the pitch in place of Alexander,Burnley were going for broke but time and again our defensive line failed to hold firm and Olsson did well to collect a through-ball before bringing a fine reaction save from Jensen.

Into the last five minutes and Burnley had a wonderful chance to equalise when Blake showed great poise in the penalty box before playing a clever pass for the overlapping Fox to fire in a perfect ball for either Elliott or Fletcher to nudge home. But it was Samba who deflected the ball just out of reach of both Burnley men, only for the hapless Dean to award a goal-kick.

By the time the fourth official showed five minutes of extra time it appeared that all hope had been eviscerated from the Burnley supporters. I could never recall such a significant amount of added time given such short shrift from a such a fixture of importance.

Belief cannot easily be manufactured and the reality of our predicament is hitting home now but we should still feel pride,albeit wounded, t what we have achieved over the past couple of seasons. We have done it with honesty and without risking the fiscal health of the club and if we return to the Championship sooner than hoped,as looks likely, then we return there stronger for the experience.

Defeat to our nearest doesn’t change anything about the affection for our dearest. UTC.

Cuban Claret


36 Replies to “Cuban Claret Reflects on Rovers Match”

  • How many of the 19,000 fans including the new found fair weather fans jumping on the Prem bandwagon do you think will have enjoyed the experience enough this season to support the Clarets in the Championship should we go down ?

  • As a long term season ticket holder I have renewed mine!, but I would put money on us having less than 10,000 season ticket holders next season.

  • After a season in the prem I would of thought we would have kept around 15,000 at home even in the championship but I agree with sheclaret we will be looking at 10,000. There is some big decisions for kilby and the Burnley board at the end of the season Ijust hope they make the right one for Burnley Football Club and the Fans.

  • A good account of things CC.- Our average gate depends on how well we do in the Championship with walk ons we will average over 11,00 even if we do not have a good season.

  • Well we did pretty well in the Championship last season but I think the average gate was still only about 11,000. The highest we had in the Championship I think was in the pre-Digital days when we got it up to about 15-16000 if I recall. I would be happy if we achieved 15,000, it’s just that I cant see it happening! I’d love to know how many went for the ‘early ‘Early Bird’ not knowing our fate

  • So did I,sheclaret but we are seasoned campaigners! I just wonder how many of the prem bandwagon ST holders have done so?

  • I tell you what if we do go down, I am going to try and get my Loyalty Points up by going to more away games than I normally go to in the fizzy pop league! If we get promoted, I certainly dont want to have to deal with this stupid ticketting system again

  • I also wonder how many are waiting to see if BL stays or goes. Isn’t today last day for earlybird.

  • I think a lot of ‘fans’ would not come again even if we stay up – they are the classic ‘lets have a look at the Premier League and Man U’ etc. If we start okay in the Championship I reckon we will get 13,000 plus whatever fans the away team brings. However many there are they will be the best fans of the best team in the world!

  • Anyone thinking of criticising Barry Kilby and the board re Laws, financing etc should read the article in today’s Guardian re Hull and it’s owner Russell Bartlett. Under the guise of being its rich benefactor Bartlett has actually taken money out of the club in the form of ‘loans’ – including one to enable him to buy the club in the first place! It’s a disgrace how they can get away with this – it’s illegal in most other countries including the US and Australia. No matter what mistakes the board has made they were done honestly by genuine fans and we should always remember that and be grateful.

  • Sack the board ozjean……they dared to try and run the club as debt free…foolish they should have borrowed 60 Million and brought in some proper players…Prem League ones that you can pay proper wages too. Not this useless bunch of Championship misfits….luckily Vital has turned me from a chap who wanted to give Laws until December and a bloke who thought it was wise to guarantee our clubs future rather than gamble just 10 million into a proper gung ho Sack the Board type if person…I have seen the light…….BUY..its the only way…cull the useless Championship players…cos we are Prem League…say we are Prem League…..NURSE they still aren’t working am I taking the right ones today…can you check

  • I have read the Hull thing and it hasn’t changed my opinion one iota. We are not Hull, We are not Pompey, neither are we the other 17 clubs in the Premier League but it looks like we are down.

  • Haven’t bought a season ticket , never have because of working a lot of weekends and the 450 miles round trip but I’ll still manage between 8 and 10 home games as well as roughly the same number of away fixtures. Always have and always will, be it premiership or championship, and this Sunday’s game will be the next one so that I can drool over Tevez and Bellamy. There’ll be a lot less drooling next season if we go down, but the passion and craving for a win will be the same. I’ve said it before, this club is in safe hands with Kilby and Flood at the helm, and when we return to the premiership I’m sure they’ll do things slightly differently, having learnt the lessons that we all have this year.

  • I’m in agreement with Welsh again as whatever league we’re in I will still try and get to games.

  • Don’t get to quite as many home fixtures these days as I’m exiled down south working in Westminster and, in fact, have been to slightly less games in the Premier League than I went to when we were in lower divisions. I’m the opposite of a bandwagon jumper – whatever that is. But I’ll be at the City game and hope Welsh knows it is now a Saturday tea-time kick off.

  • I hope they have learnt the lessons and are more ‘daring’ than ‘safe’ next time! If you want safe open a building society and don’t play the stockmarket would be my analogy! Yes, I have my Early Bird ST too and will support them in whatever league we ply our trade next season but it wont be the same for me playing Donny Rovers instead of Arsenal on a cold Tuesday night freezing my nads off!

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