Date: 22nd February 2009 at 10:30am
Written by:

The Clarets got a point away to third from bottom club, Norwich at Carrow Road yesterday leading gaffer Owen Coyle to say at the end of the game after the 1-1 draw:

“I thought it would have been a travesty if we had won.”

That is truly an understatement, we were awful and quite frankly this is simply not good enough against a side struggling in the bottom three, a side that would have folded had the team that beat Wolves a week ago turned up. It is clear the team is knackered with some players looking like they have still not fully recovered from injury.

Paterson needs a long, long rest and why he wasn`t substituted instead of Thompson yesterday still baffles me this morning. He should have been off at half-time and indeed I think Owen Coyle usually the master of substitutions got this one badly wrong and should have made changes much earlier in this game. Not one I have noticed to make changes at half-time, Coyle ensured we had to suffer about another 20 minutes before bringing on some badly needed fresh legs.

We need to freshen up the side but how can we with an embargo on bringing in new players and with four of them still out on loan? The disadvantages of having a small squad for a club that has now already played 44 games this season was plain to see at Carrow Road yesterday.

No doubt this will go down as a well-earned point but for heaven`s sake, Norwich had little to offer, looked scared after we equalised and we then let them off the hook by playing dross. Third from bottom they are Burnley, third from bottom! How many times have we lost points to a side in the bottom three this season? No point in beating Wolves and Reading if we can`t see off teams like Norwich.

We are still in the play-offs chase of course and remain in 7th place on 52 points but it`s as tight as a duck`s chuff up there and every point is vital. Vital, Burnley (cough!) Other results though went our way again yesterday and we are now just one point behind 4th placed Bristol City and 5th placed Preston. If Cardiff draw or beat Wolves at Molineux though today, we will drop to 8th.

Owen Coyle stuck with the same sixteen for the trip to Norwich that drew with Coventry at Turf Moor in midweek which meant Jordan retained his place at left back and Eagles was once more on the bench perhaps still not fully recovered from his persistent chest infection.

We therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Williams, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Paterson, Thompson, Blake

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Rodriguez

Our friend (Not. as he turned out to be a right Homer!), Kevin was the referee for the day (Kevin Friend-Leicestershire) and as the match got underway if was the Clarets who started the brighter.

The home side though got their first opportunity after 15 minutes when Wes Hoolahan involved in a clever one-two on the edge of the box was advancing towards Jensen before Elliott cut out the danger. Six minutes later though and the Canaries were ahead. The Clarets defence was at fault for not handling the danger posed by Fotheringham charging down the right wing and has he pulled the ball back, Cureton was in the right place ten yards out to get in a right footed shot to beat Jensen and put Norwich 1-0 up.

The Canaries now had belief in themselves and Jensen had to pull off a spectacular point blank save on 25 minutes to deny Carl Cort doubling their lead at the far post.

Jensen was there again three minutes later getting to a low driven shot strongly fired in by John Otsemobor.

Otsemober by now was getting the better of the Burnley midfield so Blake and Elliot switched places in an effort to turn the tide in our favour.

Paterson came close as he stretched to try and get to a ball from Elliott with the Clarets now showing some signs of recovery and in the 36th minute their efforts were rewarded with an equaliser. Blake got in a crafty reverse pass to set up Paterson homing in on goal. Paterson let rip but his shot could only be parried away by the Canaries keeper and the ball fell nicely to Thompson to get one of his infamous poacher`s goals.

It was now the home side who would be on the back foot and they look rattled big-time! We should have hit them for six at this point but somehow we were just not up to it as ball after ball, typically from midfield failed to find an attacking player. Chris McCann quite frankly was woeful, the worst I have ever seen him play. Robbie Blake by his own standards also looked subdued and Paterson`s first touch was letting him down time and time again.

Half-time arrived and despite having quite a bit of the possession, we couldn`t make any of it count with attack after attack breaking down. 1-1 it was at half-time therefore.

I don`t know why but Owen Coyle always seems reluctant to make changes at half-time and if ever there was a match where we needed to, this was it! But he didn`t and neither did Norwich which says it all!

It would be Norwich who would start the second half the brightest with the Clarets looking more and more jaded and lacklustre as the half progressed.

Luckily for the Clarets, Norwich too were struggling and looked a very poor side to be honest. Their only ammunition appeared to be lobbed balls into the box with most easily dealt with by Jensen and the back four.

The Clarets did have their rare moments though and a long-range effort from Blake gave the Canaries keeper the jitters with the ball just dropping over the crossbar.

At long last with 62 minutes played, Coyle made his first substitutions of the afternoon with Chris Eagles coming on to replace the tiring Wade Elliott and Kevin McDonald replacing Blake in a double-substitution. Alexander now also reverted back to his holding midfield role.

Would these changes up our game and improve our performance? Answer no, the dross continued. Eagles in fact appeared to be the invisible man for a time with the rest of the players seemingly ignoring him!

Jensen looked a little shaky having to save the ball at the second attempt following an 18 yard shot by Fotheringham. However he did well to recover from his mistake with Cureton breathing down his neck.

It was Jensen again who saved the day on 73 minutes. Doherty from a free kick had headed a ball onto Shackell ten yards from goal but The Beast was equal to the danger.

Eight minutes to go and on came Jay Rodriguez for surprisingly Thompson and not the shattered looking Pato and there was just time for the Clarets to have probably their best spell of the game in the last five minutes or so.

Eagles had suddenly woken up and found himself in the game more. He got in a superb low cross that whizzed into the six yard box during time added on but there was just nobody there close enough to get a boot to it and score an almost certain goal.

In virtually the final action of the game, it was Eagles in the thick of it again after a deft one-two on the edge of the box put him clear on goal with only the keeper to beat. Sadly though he fired over and that was it, a very disappointing day out for Clarets fans with only the mild sunny weather of Norwich and the plethora of excellent real ale pubs in the area to cheer us up.

Yep, a Clarets performance that simply just was not good enough and I just hope the small squad scenario and now clear signs of tiredness will not once again ensure our season comes to nothing but a mid-table finish. Owls at the Turf next Saturday, a must win game as they all are now with only 12 fixtures of the season in the Championship to play.


Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell, Doherty, Grounds, Croft, Clingan, Fotheringham, Hoolahan (Bertrand 83), Cureton (Daley 78), Cort (Killen 68).

Subs Not Used: Nelson, Russell.

Goals: Cureton 20.

Burnley: Jensen, Williams, Duff, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott (Eagles 62), Alexander, McCann, Blake (McDonald 63), Paterson, Thompson (Rodriguez 82).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Gudjonsson.

Booked: Duff.

Goals: Thompson 36.

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).