Date: 12th August 2007 at 6:36pm
Written by:

What a great opening start to the season as the Clarets fought back in the second half from a goal down at half-time to win 2-1. Turf Moor was in carnival mood before the match, with a band drumming a beat outside ‘The Lounge` pub and the chaps ogling at two rather attractive young ladies on stilts walking up and down Harry Potts Way!

There was also a great atmosphere inside the ground as well with plenty going on to warm up the crowd of 15,337 attending our first match of the season. We were entertained by Brendan Flood & other Directors trying to get a ‘chip in the pie` and then we saw a delightful acrobatic young lady do her stuff tied to a Heliosphere balloon emblazoned with the Clarets 125th Anniversary Crest. There was more to come at half-time when the fans were treated to another session from Keepy Uppy King, Daniel Magness in the centre circle.

But anyway enough of that, what about the football match?

New boys Gabor Kiraly, Steve Jordan and Robbie Blake were all given their debuts in the match although Albanian international Berisha Besart.was not even named on the bench.

Gray and Blake were to be the strike pair as expected with both Lafferty and Akinbiyi named on the bench.

The starting line-up was therefore as follows:

Kiraly, Duff, Thomas, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Harley, Blake Gray.

Subs: Jensen, James O’Connor, Spicer, Lafferty, Akinbiyi

So no place for Berisha, Jones, Mahon, Foster or Rodriguez but that just shows how many more options and competition for places we seem to have this season.

Harley continued to be tried in the left midfield/wing role with Jordan taking the left back spot although that was about to change once Caldwell had to leave the pitch injured.

West Brom fielded a rather unfamiliar side with a number of debutants and no Koumas or Diomansy Kamara who were the previous danger men sold during the summer. They adopted a diamond formation with former Claret, Chaplow playing a pivotal role.

They lined up as follows:

Kiely, Hoefkens, Barnett, Clement, Greening, Beattie, Gera, Chaplow, Teixeira Phillips, Tininho.

Subs: Steele, Albrechtsen., Ellington, Pele, Morrison

The Clarets started the brighter of the two teams after Robbie Blake forced an early corner in the second minute following a pass from Michael Duff.

Elliott picked up the short corner forcing a second corner but Chris McCann headed over.

The Baggies then got a free kick from just outside the area a couple of minutes later Leon Barnett got onto it with his head but our defence got in the way and it rebounded harmlessly away.

Blake got a second early corner only for Duff to head just over the bar. At long last though the Clarets seemed to be making their corner`s count after a couple of seasons struggling in this department.

Robbie Blake then set Michael Duff free down the right-hand side on 13 minutes but Baggies keeper, Dean Kiely collected his cross with Gray looking on and ready to pounce.

A free kick on 17 minutes led to our fourth corner of the match. But this led to West Brom picking up the loose ball and on the break scoring against the run of play. That man Kevin Phillips did the damage after he was found by Zoltan Gera. In far too much space, he simply curled the ball past Kiraly to unsettle the Clarets fans carnival spirit and hopes.

We appealed for a penalty a minute later after Blake seemed to be fouled in the box but the game carried on without any whistle with Duff lofting a ball over the Albion goal.

After 30 minutes, there was more bad news for the Clarets when skipper, Steven Caldwell hobbled off with what seemed to be an ankle injury.

West Brom had an extra man advantage for a time whilst Steve Cotterill considered his options. It was to be Kyle Lafferty who would come on and take on a left midfield role with Harley dropping back to left back and Jordan going into the centre of defence.

The Baggies probably had the upper edge during most of the first half as the Clarets seemed to struggle with their diamond formation. Richard Chaplow was having a very good game for them, so much so an element of the Burnley fans seemed intent on booing our former midfielder. Will they never learn, that just spurs them on!

Wade Elliott though was unlucky not to score after 32 minutes from a Harley pass after a threatening run down the left.

There were a few more attempts mainly from Albion but the Clarets went in 1-0 down at half-time, a rather disappointing score line for the Clarets fans with the team seeming to struggle against a team favoured for promotion this season.

However all the doom and gloom was about to be lifted in the second half with an awesome display by the Clarets involving some clever tactics and an inspirational substitution from the gaffer. The fans were really entertained as the Clarets came back to take control of the match.

Duff got in a delightful header at the back post from a Blake corner and it was suddenly game on and 1-1 with the second half only 2 minutes old.

West Brom won a couple of corners as they tried to regain control but they came to nothing and the Clarets began to press again.

Kiraly put in a long ball which managed to embarrassingly float over centre back, Barnett`s head with Blake bearing down, but Kiely managed to clear.

Burnley then stepped up a gear and Lafferty ran down the left in the 56th minute, beat Barnett but couldn`t quite get the ball through to Elliot.

Gray perhaps could have done better when Duff headed into the box from a Gudjonsson free kick but he could only head over the Baggies goal.

Michael Duff became the first Burnley player of the season to be cautioned after 72 minutes for a foul

Tony Mowbray had tried to change things around following strong Burnley pressure with a few substitutions that saw Pele, Ellington and Morrison come on to replace Beattie, Teixeira and old boy Chaplow but it was a substitution from Steve Cotterill that was to prove inspirational.

In the 73rd minute, Robbie Blake who had probably an average game by his own standards was replaced by Ade Akinbiyi who seemed to find his pace of old and ran rings round the Albion defence. They just didn`t seem to have the answer and it was pressure from Ade Akinbiyi that led to a penalty being awarded for a handball after 78 minutes.

Andy Gray had found Akinbyi with a sweet pass and Ade`s shot was then handled by Neil Clement. The referee seemed to ponder for ages whether to award a penalty but the linesman was in no doubt and finally the ref pointed to the spot.

Gray stepped up to take the penalty and then sweetly slotted the ball away into the left hand corner of the net to the delight of the Clarets fans. 2-1 Clarets-What a comeback!!

Kyle Lafferty nearly made it three after 83 minutes but he put in a weak shot straight at the Baggies keeper following after another pacey forward run from that man Ade!

So the first win was in the Bag and not for the Baggies.

The Clarets fans had been entertained both on and off the pitch. This was an excellent result with the team showing grit and determination to come back from 1-0 down and win this match against a Club favoured by many to get promotion this season following their ‘near miss` in the Play offs last season. We have now beaten this team twice in less than five months at Turf Moor but there were so many other positives to take from this match.

The Clarets at long last seem to be getting better at corners and set-pieces (thanks mainly to the arrival of Blake), somehow we now seem to be getting those penalties awarded which is probably linked to greater pressure and conviction from the forwards, Akinbiyi seems to have found his pace again, Gudjonsson seems to have steadily improved and more importantly Steve Cotterill now has more options to try those Plan Bs. One Plan B with the inspirational substitution of Blake with Ade certainly worked yesterday and probably the earlier forced substitution of Caldwell with Lafferty also paid handsome dividends. Lafferty had an excellent match on the left and looked dangerous. £2 million bid from Fulham? They are having a larf!!



Kiraly, Duff, Thomas, Caldwell (Lafferty 31), Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Harley, Blake (Akinbiyi 73), Gray.

Subs Not Used: Jensen, James O’Connor, Spicer.

Booked: Duff.

Goals: Duff 47, Gray 79 pen.

West Brom:

Kiely, Hoefkens, Barnett, Clement, Tininho, Gera, Chaplow (Morrison 70), Greening, Phillips, Beattie (Ellington 70), Filipe Teixeira (Pele 64).

Subs Not Used: Steele, Albrechtsen.

Booked: Gera.

Goals: Phillips 18.

Ref: E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).