Did you just say Hull 1 Burnley 4? Yes OK you can pinch me now. Oh my god, you mean to say it is not a dream?
The Clarets had just won their first game of the season away and what a time to do it against fellow strugglers Hull City at the KC Stadium. This vital six-pointer could only have one outcome if realistically the Clarets were to stand any chance of avoiding the drop back down to the Championship after just one year in the top flight. We simply had to win but I don`t think Clarets fans ahead of this game had any confidence that we would after recent dismal performances and with only one win in 14 games since the arrival of Brian Laws .Even the most positive with blind faith could not have expected such an emphatic victory but a victory it was making it the most enjoyable game on the road for Clarets fans all season.
Brian Laws has come under a lot of stick recently with rumours he had lost the dressing room. The media this week have also been baying for blood and sensing another managerial casualty. It certainly has been a miserable time for the fans and everybody associated with the club.
There was only one way the gaffer could silence his critics and boy did he do that in style against Hull! Last week Brian Laws had to run the gauntlet of booing fans as he traipsed off in a torrential downpour with the Clarets already 5-0 down at half-time to Manchester City. It was so good to see him so happy this week in the bright sunshine. You could see his relief as each goal went in and he charged around his technical area doing a victory dance.
The players had looked lacklustre, clueless and devoid of any quality in their last couple of games but this time they rose to the challenge and looked up for it. This was in effect the most pleasing aspect about our performance. We had been told things were so bad at the club that Laws had brought in a Sports Psychologist in order to give the players a pep talk. Well whatever he said the players went bananas and put in a mental performance. One swallow does not make a summer but at least all Clarets fans for the moment can ‘dare to dream` again.
It all started off badly though and we found ourselves 1-0 down after Kevin Kilbane headed home from close range after just two minutes of play. This was a typical goal to concede of late with the defence all over the place except in the place they should have been! Things looked ominous for the Clarets with most fans now having flashbacks to the 6-1 drubbing at home to Manchester City in our last game last Saturday with most now gearing up for another ‘humourous` humiliating defeat.
That shocker of a Hull goal sent shockwaves through the Burnley camp and an element of the away end were also now preparing a number of anti-Laws songs with a few half-hearted attempts breaking through.
We were playing the same awful game again and we all feared the worse but little did we know what was about to unfold. Hull City effectively let us off the hook and failed to make their goal advantage count. Gradually the Clarets sensed that Hull were not struggling down there for nothing but to be honest what followed for most of the first half was a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to make any impression. It was the Clarets though who looked the most determined and they fought hard getting an equaliser with ten minutes of the first-half to go. It was a delightful bit of awareness from Martin Paterson that did the trick after some grim determination by Mears down the right flank. Mears left footed cross found Pato with his back to goal, his instincts though told him where the target was and bringing the ball down, he swivelled round to fire past Myhill.
Clarets fans could start to ‘dare to dream` again but could we go on to win this game? We had not come from behind all season to pick up the three points so could another bad statistic be about to crumble. Oh boy yes!!
In the earlier encounter between these two sides at Turf Moor back in October we came out 2-0 winners with Graham Alexander getting a brace of goals one from a penalty and one from open play. Penalty king, Graham Alexander was now going to get his second brace against the Tigers but this time both from the penalty spot. Just over the hour mark, with the Clarets pressing, Duff was brought down in the box after the ball was headed down to him following a Fox free-kick. Cool as a cucumber, Alexander slotted home from the spot with the side of his boot putting the ball low to the left of the keeper who was now diving in the opposite direction.
David Nugent won Burnley’s second penalty six minutes later when he was brought down by Steven Mouyokolo following a mazy run. Up stepped Alexander for the second time and blow me in virtually a carbon copy of the first penalty sent Myhill the wrong way again with the ball this time sailing a bit higher into the net. So 3-1 Burnley away from home with the Clarets fans going wild. Premiership. You are having a laff!! We were now and for once the flood of tears tasted sweet.
It was going to be icing on the cake time though when deep into added time, Elliott scored a superb goal from a direct free-kick. His in-swinging free-kick from wide on the left sweetly found the top corner of the net to make it a happy 200th game in Claret & Blue for our Wembley hero!
‘We’re winning away, we’re winning awaaaaaaaaay, how sh*t must you be? We’re winning away!’
This chant aimed at the Hulls fans may not sound much but you can see the relevance when you have not won an away match all season in the Premier League and indeed have failed to win on the road in the top flight since beating Newcastle 1-0 away in April 1976! Clarets fans were of course ecstatic and that song lifted spirits even more after a long, hard season singing and cheering like mad away from home and coming home with zilch.
A 4-1 victory, our first away win of the season, our first double of the season and the first time this season we have come from behind to win home or away. It doesn`t get much better than this although we do have to come back down to earth and look at the reality of the situation. One swallow does not make a summer and the result now puts us four points away from safety behind Wigan and West Ham. However we now leapfrog Hull City into the third from bottom slot with a better goal difference albeit having played a game more. We have a lot to do still to avoid the drop but at least this performance and passion from the players gives all Clarets fans some hope. ‘Dare to Dream` is back on the agenda!
The Clarets Team Sheet
Brian Laws made just three changes to the starting eleven showing faith with most of the players that had put in such an abject performance in our last game against Manchester City at Turf Moor last week. The back four survived despite the defence shipping six goals only seven days before against a rampant City side. All the changes were made in midfield. Blake and Eagles found themselves back on the bench with Martin Paterson and Wade Elliott coming in to replace them.
There was no room in the eighteen at all for Kevin McDonald following his fine this week for sneaking off to the pub after being substituted at half-time against City with the Clarets already 5-0 down. McDonald, let`s be honest had an awful first half and deserved to be substituted so he could have no excuse for his subsequent behaviour and he apologised profusely afterwards. Laws had stated this week that the matter was now closed and that McDonald would still be in contention for the Hull City match. If that was the case he clearly failed to make the eighteen one assumes therefore based on current form. Chelsea loan, Jack Cork took his place in midfield.
There was also a welcome return for skipper, Steven Caldwell who has now fully recovered from a groin and pelvic injury that has kept him sidelined for a lot of the season. He was named on the bench
The Clarets in summary therefore lined up as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, Cork, Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs: Weaver, Carlisle, Caldwell, Bikey, Blake, Eagles, Thompson
The Full Match Report
It was a bright sunny spring day on Humberside and you could sense the tension of both set of fans at the Kingston Communications Stadium as Yorkshire referee, Martin Atkinson got this vital battle for survival in the Premier League underway.
The Clarets fans began to wonder as they hesitantly looked at the same back four that had failed so dismally in the last game against Manchester City at home and shipped six goals. That wonder turned to anger within a couple of minutes or so after Jozy Altidore got in a cross that found Kilbane in a totally unmarked position. The defence was found wanting yet again as Kilbane simply nodded home to put the Tigers 1-0 up. All the fears of yet another tonking on the scale of Man City now came back to haunt the Clarets fans with Burnley at this stage playing just as badly as they did last time. It took about 15 minutes for the Clarets to settle down by which time Hull had failed to penetrate further and gain the upper hand thanks mainly to their wayward shooting and some strong defensive work in the centre by both Cort and Duff. An early clash of heads with both Cort and Duff going for the same ball, left the Irish man with a bloody forehead that required four stitches to stem the bleeding. Duff bravely carried on though sporting a head bandage.
Brian Jensen was not playing well at this point looking uncertain in the challenge and failing to communicate with the back four. A commentator on Match of the Day later that night would suggest the Beast was playing so badly he might have to be substituted. A couple of minutes later though and there was egg all over his face as Jensen made a crucial save blocking an attempt by Altidore with his face after just 30 minutes of play. The ball fell to Bullard who could only blast it over the bar
By now you could see Burnley`s confidence improving by the minute as Hull failed to make their advantage count and on 35 minutes the Clarets scored a superb equaliser. A determined run by Tyrone Mears down the right led to a cross that found Paterson who instinctively turned to thump a low shot past the Hull keeper. Now the belief really was in the Clarets camp with Hull looking nervous and the fans getting edgy.
So it was 1-1 at half-time with Brian Laws happy with the team`s performance and deciding not to make any changes for the second half.
The Clarets started off strongly and began to dominate proceedings enjoying the lion`s share of possession. Jack Cork was influential in midfield with Paterson, Nugent and Fletcher looking lively up front.
We had a great chance to take the lead on 56 minutes when a cross from Paterson found Duff in acres of space. He could only side-foot his shot over the bar though from close range and he was clearly angry with himself for missing what looked a certain goal.
On the hour mark though we got a free kick from which we took the lead. In a bizarre incident we had to take it twice after Fagan stood too close for the first attempt and earned himself a booking. Danny Fox took the free-kick again and this time Cort headed the ball down to find Duff who fell under pressure from George Boateng and Ibrahima Sonko with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. It was perhaps controversial as video footage later did not appear to show that any contact was made.
This referee was certainly not a homer and some Hull fans were claiming that the Yorkshire referee who hailed from Leeds had a downer on the Tigers. The yellow card count by the end of the game seemed to bear that out with 5 yellow cards for the home side compared to our one!
Well let`s face, it is about time we got some luck and Grezza was certainly not thinking about the decision has he lined up to take the penalty. Cool as a cucumber as usual Alexander toe poked the ball into the right corner of the net sending Boaz Myhill the wrong way. 2-1 Clarets, could this really be happening as the ‘We`re Winning Away` chants echoed from the Clarets part of the North Stand?
Seven minutes later it really was happening as the Clarets increased their lead, again from the penalty spot. This time it was David Nugent who was the architect storming down the left flank on a mazy run that could only be stopped unfairly by Mendy bringing down the on loan striker in the box.
It was almost déjà vu as once more Alexander lined up to take the penalty in that same familiar focussed pose. This time he lifted the ball slightly higher into the same corner once more sending the keeper the wrong way! Unbelievable but true 3-1 Clarets away from home!
With five minutes to go Steven Caldwell made a welcome return from the bench replacing the hardworking Duff with the Clarets now determined not to concede again and set up a nervy ending.
Just one effort from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink effort and a Jimmy Bullard attempt which both went wide were all Hull seemed to be able to throw at the Clarets with the Tigers now looking completely demoralised.
There was just time to rub salt in their wounds and improve our goal difference over them from virtually the last kick of the game in the sixth minute of added time.
Burnley were awarded a direct free kick and it was Wembley hero, Wade Elliott playing his 200th game for the Clarets who decided to chance his arm or more accurately his boot. His sweet in-swinging shot from wide left sailed into the top corner of the net. 4-1 Clarets and our first away win of the season. What a relief and what a day for Clarets fans! Let`s just hope it`s not a little too late to avoid the drop but whatever our fate very well done lads!
Hull City: Myhill, Dawson (Barmby 51), McShane (Geovanni 67), Mendy, Mouyokolo, Sonko, Kilbane, Boateng, Bullard, Fagan (Vennegoor of Hesselink 74), Altidore
Subs Not Used: Duke, Marney, Cairney, Folan
Goal: Kilbane 2
Booked: Yellow Card for Mendy, Boateng, Fagan, Altidore, Barmby
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff (Caldwell 85), Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, Cork, Paterson, Nugent (Thompson 90), Fletcher
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Carlisle, Bikey, Blake, Eagles
Goals: Paterson 35, Alexander 64 pen & 70 pen, Elliott (90 + 5)
Booked: Yellow Card for Mears
Possession: 50% Hull City, 50% Burnley, (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)
Hulluva Win To Put Clarets Dream Back On Agenda
Did you just say Hull 1 Burnley 4? Yes OK you can pinch me now. Oh my god, you mean to say it is not a dream?