Date: 12th April 2009 at 4:20pm
Written by:

Burnley fans already knew before the kick-off against QPR at Turf Moor yesterday that a win would ensure we would be a massive seven points ahead of the 7th placed club.

The club had announced over the tannoy that Blackpool had defeated 7th placed Preston in the local derby at Deepdale, a game that had kicked off earlier at 1pm so all we now needed to do was beat QPR and things would look very rosy indeed for our play-offs hopes.

That is exactly what we did too, beating the Rs 1-0 to stay in 6th place on 69 points, now seven points clear ahead Preston who dropped to 8th and Swansea who replaced our local rivals in 7th place on the same number of points. There are now only four matches left to play, and we just have to hold our nerve to cement that place in the play-offs. We now have two tricky games coming up against rivals in the Top Six, starting with a trip to Ninian Park on Easter Monday to face 4th placed Cardiff before playing Sheffield United a week later at Turf Moor. The Blades seem to be on a roll at the moment and are in third place snapping at the heels of Wolves and Birmingham for one of the automatic places. The seven point cushion is comfortable but any points we can get from these next two games could ensure we are definitely in the play-offs allowing Clarets fans to relax a little in our final two games away to relegation-threatened Southampton and Bristol City at home.

The Clarets in truth had a nervy game yesterday especially in the last ten minutes but manager-less QPR looked a very average side and the rare Rs attacks seemed to come to nothing with Jensen dealing with anything looking a little more dangerous. The one goal in the 49th minute was in the end enough to secure all three points and make it a very rewarding day for all Clarets fans. The goal came from a Blake corner with Clarke Carlisle getting in a header that was turned in by Chris Eagles from close range. Some reports have credited the goal to Carlisle but it looks like Eagles will be the one claiming it.

Steven Thompson still suffering from an ankle ligament injury was the only player in the current 19 men squad (apart from Russell Anderson) not fit enough to play in yesterday`s game although Martin Paterson was still slightly feeling his hamstring so in the end Coyle decided to put Pato on the bench and give young Jay Rodriguez his first start up front. This was the one change to the sixteen compared to the last three games so we lined-up as follows;

Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Eagles, McCann, Elliott, Blake, Rodriguez

Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Paterson.

On a bright, sunny Easter day at Turf Moor, West Yorkshire referee, Mark Haywood got the match underway in front of just over 15,000 fans.

Wade Elliott almost gave the Clarets the lead within seconds of the kick-off but his shot was blasted wide of target.

Shortly afterwards, Clarets fans nerves had to be steadied after a clever one-two on the edge of the box led to a Vine shot that hit the post. It wouldn`t have counted anyway with the linesman`s flag raised for offside.

A Robbie Blake free-kick after five minutes found Rodriguez but he put his header just wide.

With both teams looking to break the deadlock, Brian Jensen had to be alert after 13 minutes play. Vine this time got the better of Williams, getting in behind the full back to shoot. The Beast though pulled off a great save at the near post as Clarets fans once more breathed a sigh of relief.

A good cross by Eagles on 21 minutes found the lively Rodriguez but with Kaspars Gorkss breathing down his neck the debutant was unable to head on target. It was Rodriguez again though on 34 minutes who came close with another header, this time forcing a good save from Cerny diving to his right.

The Clarets pressure was now beginning to take effect with QPR looking shaky in defence.

Poor defending nearly led to Graham Alexander breaking the deadlock with a shot on 36 minutes. Another good save by Cerny though denied the Scottish International with the Clarets now looking the side most likely to take the lead.

Five minutes before the break, Blake came close with a trademark free-lick but again Cerny came to the Rs rescue with a good save. The Clarets were now dominating the game but just couldn`t get the breakthrough they needed. Cerny saved once more on 42 minutes after Alexander tried a hit-and-hope shot and that was it for the first half.

No changes were made by either side for the start of the second half and it was the Clarets again who would continue to dominate play with the Rs riding their luck. A shot by Rodriguez had been deflected wide and then Carlisle headed against the post from the resulting corner. After 49 minutes though the Rs luck finally ran out as the Clarets deservedly took the lead from a Blake corner. As the ball came over, Carlisle got in a strong header that got a touch by Eagles to beat Cerny from close range. 1-0 Clarets despite protests about something by the keeper and defenders!

Elliott charging down the left on 53 minutes linked well with Eagles but neither player could shoot home as a chance to double the lead evaporated. Cerny turned over an attempt by Eagles on 69 minutes. From the resulting corner, Carlisle got in a powerful header with a goal looking certain before somehow the ball was cleared off the line despite some thinking it had gone over.

The last ten minutes were a bit nervy for the Clarets fans and substitute Lee Cook came close for QPR after 83 minutes but thankfully though he put his shot wide. The final whistle at long last came though to crown a perfect day for Clarets fans. A great start then to our Easter campaign and play-off hopes. Let`s go and get something now against Cardiff tomorrow and begin to turn our dreams into reality.

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Burnley: Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott, Alexander, McCann, Blake (Gudjonsson 79), Eagles (McDonald 89), Rodriguez (Paterson 86).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Duff.

Booked: Kalvenes.

Goals: Carlisle 49.

QPR: Cerny, Connolly, Gorkss, Ramage, Delaney, Routledge, Leigertwood, Ephraim (Lopez 71), Taarabt, Di Carmine (Cook 54), Vine (Alberti 84).

Subs Not Used: Mahon, Stewart.

Ref: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire).