Date: 11th January 2009 at 4:12pm
Written by:

The Clarets suffered another humiliating defeat at home yesterday, this time going down to Swansea 2-0. The miserable Christmas period has continued into the early New Year and we have now gone five games in all competitions without a win.

One of those defeats included of course that truly disappointing and frustrating 4-1 defeat by Spurs at White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup Semi-final 1st leg last week. A result that truly flattered Tottenham but which also ensured we now need a miracle to reach the Wembley final in the second leg at Turf Moor later this month.

That game may well have taken the stuffing out of the Clarets both mentally and physically. It certainly looked that way against Swansea yesterday even before our task was made even more difficult by a crass refereeing decision. Michael Duff was ridiculously sent off for an alleged foul in the penalty area after 35 minutes play.

Owen Coyle was livid about the decision:

‘The penalty was a big moment in the game and it was a hard one to take, we have been on the end of some harsh decisions”

This match was also of course a late kick-off thanks to the game being televised by Sky Sports and I have yet to see my Sky Plus recording. The general consensus though from folk I have spoken to was that this was never a penalty and certainly not a straight red.

How many red cards have Burnley had this season? We seem to get one every other game and most of them controversial and harsh. We are not a dirty team are we?

I think the FA have to look at this area in the future. Far too many games are being killed off by weak refereeing decisions and sending players off for something and nowt! I was thinking this at the game before I saw today that Owen Coyle has also since called for a rule change. He is 100% spot on!

Oh well, like I say although we were reduced to ten men for most of the game, we hardly shone in the first 35 minutes with eleven men and looked shadows of our former selves. We have to stop being beaten by such mediocre teams, we were just not good enough and had we played like we did for the first 45 minutes against Spurs, we would and should have annihilated them. Quite frankly I thought we were awful, the defence in particular although Chris Eagles looked totally disinterested and never seemed to get out of the starting blocks all afternoon.

This defeat ensured we now drop out of the play off positions for the first time since October. We are now 7th on 43 points. The day was made even worse with the earlier news of Preston beating Wolves at Molineux and the Lilywhites are now one point ahead of the Clarets in 6th place which really sets us up nicely, but worryingly for the local derby at Deepdale next Saturday.

What has happened to our team? Are the injuries, suspensions and tiredness beginning to catch up with the lads? We still have a relatively small squad, even more so with Anderson out with cruciate ligament injuries, Kiraly not wanted and Jones and Berisha again out on loans.

Maybe this is just the half-a-season phenomenon again; you know the Clarets traditional post-Christmas slump.

Something though is quite clear, if Kilby and Flood are adamant they want to see this club in the top-flight, we are going to have to go the final mile in the transfer windows sometime, hold onto to our key players and preferably add to the squad. The news is grim at the moment on that front with only loans looking likely if that. Our fate this season could be decided by the shape of our squad come 1st February but somehow we have to get back to winning ways and quickly before then.

Caldwell returned to the side yesterday after a two-match automatic ban for his straight red-card sending off at Doncaster.

Clarke Carlisle who has had some indifferent games in the back four for the Clarets recently was dropped for this match and Michael Duff took his place in the centre of defence, partnering the skipper.

It was perhaps also surprising that Gudjonsson started this game having been passed fit afterall. Owen Coyle had stated the Icelandic midfielder was going to be rested after coming off with a potential hamstring problem in the Spurs game. It was Kevin McDonald in fact who didn`t make the sixteen confirming he still hasn`t fully recovered from his groin injury despite coming on for Gud at White Hart Lane.

We therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Eagles, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Blake, Paterson.

Subs: Penny, Carlisle, Mahon, MacDonald, Thompson

The only potential interest in the Swansea team for Clarets fans was whether we would get chance to see our former loan star, Nathan Dyer currently on loan from Southampton play for the Swans. Well there would be a chance as he was named on the bench.

Do you ever get those pre-match feelings that things are not going to go our way? I just had a feeling against Swansea we would be lacklustre with the stuffing taken out of us after the gruelling midweek Spurs game. You just knew also with Preston winning, we would struggle to get a win and so it proved.

On a cold, bitter afternoon at Turf Moor, Northumberland referee Michael Oliver got the game underway.

It was the visitors who had by far the better start with the Clarets looking jaded and clueless. Swans, Mark Gower had a shot deflected wide for a corner after 11 minutes.
The back-four then needed a good waking up after Darren Pratley got behind them on 14 minutes only to find Jensen bravely stopping his advance.

‘For heaven`s sake, Burnley start playing like you did in the first half against Spurs, this is bloody Swansea` I found I kept saying that to myself countless times as Swansea time and time again went up on the attack. Jensen was alert again on 21 minutes this time mopping up a low cross by Pratley.

It was nearly 30 minutes for heaven`s sake before our first real chance when Paterson got in a great cross only for McCann`s header to be deflected wide. That seemed to stir us into action and one minute later Eagles woke up but could only fire over. He then got in a superb cross on 31 minutes with Paterson just failing to connect.

This was the only time in the match that I thought we might stand a chance of getting a result with the Clarets beginning at long last to take control .That thought though evaporated four minutes later when the referee spoilt the game with a pathetic penalty decision and sending off.

Michael Duff looked to have his hands around Jason Scotland`s midriff but the striker`s progress didn`t seem to be impeded and by the time the challenge came in, his hands were no longer round the big Trinidadian. If it was a foul it was an innocuous one, and if it was a penalty it certainly didn`t warrant a red-card. Misery complete for the Clarets fans though, off goes Duff and in goes Scotland`s spot kick.

Roberto Martinez’s side saw out the rest of the first half with some ease now they had the extra man advantage and as the referee blew for the end of the first half, I hope he took on board the booing and disgust of the Clarets fans as he walked off (probably not!)

Swansea started the second half as they had ended the first half, enjoying most of the possession and using their one-man advantage. Thankfully Gower inside the area could only shoot straight at Jensen on 50 minutes.

Thompson came on for Blake after 56 minutes with Coyle trying to freshen things up and then Swansea brought on our former loan winger, Nathan Dyer eight minutes later.

Burnley had one or two moments in the second half without really looking that convincing. Elliott got in a near-lethal cross on the hour mark but again Paterson just failed to make contact.

By now the neutrals watching this game on Sky Sports were probably asleep as the game deteriorated into a scrappy, lifeless affair.

With the ball bouncing around in the box, McCann was unlucky not to get a connection on the ball with 74 minutes played but 10 minutes later and the Clarets miserable afternoon was complete with Scotland getting his brace for the Swans. Gower had made a good run down the left crossing the ball for Scotland who easily slotted home from close range.

The Clarets though did still try and get something from the game but it just seemed hopeless and it was typical that attempts by Eagles and Paterson late in the game both sailed over the angle.

It was almost a relief when the final whistle went and those Clarets fans still on the ground could go home and warm up. We have to do something and something quick to reverse the misery of these torrid times. So that`s three straight defeats in the Championship now and a mountain to climb in the Carling Cup. Does anybody really relish an FA Cup 3rd round replay at home to QPR on Tuesday night? Well that`s what we have got and it is probably one match we can ill-afford to have in a packed January schedule. I just hope that tit of a referee hasn`t ensured it effectively means our Championship promotion hopes have gone tits-up and another post-Christmas slump and midtable mediocrity is all we can now look forward too. Aye, I know be positive!

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Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Eagles, Elliott, Gudjonsson (MacDonald 86), McCann, Blake (Thompson 56), Paterson.

Subs Not Used: Penny, Carlisle, Mahon.

Sent Off: Duff (35).

Booked: Elliott.

Swansea: De Vries, Rangel, Williams, Tate, Monk, Britton, Gomez (Pintado 87), Pratley, Gower, Scotland, Allen (Dyer 64).

Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Butler, Serran.

Booked: Britton.

Goals: Scotland 35 pen, 86.

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).