Date: 5th March 2008 at 11:10am
Written by:

The Clarets played their worst game of football probably all season in the first half against Hull at the KC Stadium. They were totally outplayed, with the pace of Folan and Campbell ripping our defence apart not to mention soon-to-retire Jay Jay Okocha showboating all over the place. Our woe was compounded by yet another howler from Brian Jensen that led to Hull`s first goal after only 14 minutes. He was reprieved after a similar cock-up in the previous away game at Plymouth and has played in the last two matches but he will be lucky to survive again and there is a strong call for Kiraly to be given another chance as first choice keeper.

Hull`s total dominance in the first half is probably not reflected in the half-time score of 2-0. We were down by that score after only 28 minutes. Frazier Campbell had put Hull ahead after Jensen let his shot squirm under his body and then Richard Garcia’s 35-yard lethal strike made it 2-0. Somehow, miraculously the score had not turned into four or five nil by the time the Clarets traipsed off at half-time, no doubt about to get an ear-full from Owen Coyle.

Whatever he said seemed to work in the second half and we did look a lot brighter, had more possession and could well have made a game of it, if only we could have found enough inspiration to get a goal back. We couldn`t and the game finished 2-0 to Hull but that doesn`t tell the whole story.

In a bizarre, freaky seven minute spell, Yorkshire referee, Mike Riley managed to send off two Hull players with straight reds (Folan the first to go on 70 minutes, followed by Okocha on 76 minutes) and two Clarets players for second yellows (Caldwell after 71 minutes, just one minute after Folan and then Gudjonsson after 77 minutes, one minute after Okocha). Most fans on both sides were now hoping that the Life of Riley was about to become the Death of Riley with both sides now reduced to nine men and wondering what the hell had hit them!

So not only do the Clarets suffer a 2-0 defeat, drop to 9th with a gap opening up of four points to the 6th placed club, Plymouth but we also now have three tricky matches coming up against Stoke (now 3rd) away this Saturday, followed by two home games against Charlton (5th) and Wolves (10th).

Burnley will also have to play against Stoke without their captain, with Caldwell sitting out a ban along with Gudjonsson.

Heaven help us! I suppose there is some consolation in that play-offs rival, Hull now in 8th place, two points ahead of the Clarets with a game in hand, will be unable to call upon Folan or Okocha as they sit out a three match ban for straight reds.

This is one match Clarets fans will want to quickly forget hoping that somehow the side can get their play-off hopes back on track in the next three tough games. It does seem to be slipping away now though, we just don`t seem to have that killer instinct when we need it and there are particularly worrying signs in defence.

The Clarets were forced to make one change to the starting eleven against Hull, with the news that Harley was absent due to family reasons and attending the birth of his son. Unsworth therefore came in supported by Alexander, Carlisle and Caldwell in the back four.

Coyle decided to stick with the strike pairing of Cole and Akinbiyi up front and with Lafferty keeping his place on the wide left; it was the unfortunate birthday boy, Robbie Blake (now 32) who found himself back on the bench despite his heroic two-goal cameo appearance in the last 17 minutes against Watford in the last match. Stan Varga returned to the sixteen on the bench and we lined-up as follows:

Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Unsworth, Elliott, James O`Connor, McCann, Lafferty, Cole, Akinbiyi

Subs: Kiraly, Varga, Randall, Gudjonsson, Blake.

In the Hull side, despite the hype, veteran striker Dean Windass did not make the sixteen but 35-year old Jay-Jay Okocha who says he is likely to retire from football at the end of the season did make the starting eleven.

The Tigers lined up as follows:

Myhill, Dawson, Ashbee, Turner, Garcia, Brown, Folan, Pedersen, Ricketts, Campbell, Okocha.

Subs: Tyler, Walton, Clement, Marney, France

As the match got underway it was the Tigers who clearly had more bite, going straight on the attack in the first minute.

The Clarets somehow survived this early onslaught. Okocha fired narrowly wide but it was clear he was going to cause problems for the Clarets supported by the pace of Folan and Campbell.

Wade Elliott managed to get the ball off Hull defender Andy Dawson but his shot was too high and a cross to the unmarked Akinbiyi may have been the better option.

After seven minutes and with the Clarets on the rack, Caldwell appeared to be brought down by Caleb Folan, but the whistle didn`t come although thankfully Campbell fired wide form six yards out with the Clarets still protesting to the referee.

It didn`t take long after for Hull to take advantage of their dominance though and go 1-0 up although they were helped by yet another howler from keeper, Jensen.

Campbell from the corner of the box after 14 minutes got in a weakish bobbling shot at goal and the ball went straight through Jensen’s body to go over the line. Oops! 1-0 Hull with the Clarets looking hapless, hopeless and outclassed.

It was Campbell again who should have made it 2-0 after going on a run following an Okocha pass but he fluffed his shot across Jensen`s path.

In a rare attack the Clarets finally managed to dent the Hull dominance after 25 minutes when Chris McCann charged at the Tiger`s defence. After a deft one-two with Akinbiyi, he then found Cole. A sweet pass found O`Connor but his side-footed shot went straight across goal with Akinbiyi about to pounce.

However in the 28th minute, Hull`s Richard Garcia doubled the Tigers` lead with a 35 yard screamer that gave Jensen no chance. We were now in danger of a right tonking as the total dominance continued for the rest of the half.

Jensen dived bravely to deny Folan on 30 minutes as the onslaught continued against our battered and bruised defence.

Surely Owen Coyle would have to make some changes and when he did on 33 minutes, it turned out to be a forced change with McCann being replaced by the more defensive, Gudjonsson in midfield. It appears McCann may have gone off injured with a groin strain rather than have been tactically substituted.

Somehow we survived the rest of the half without conceding again, time for a regrouping in the dressing room and some harsh words (we assume) from the gaffer!

The Clarets, maybe surprisingly did not make any further changes for the start of the second half but at least this time the team talk appeared to have worked, with Burnley looking the brighter of the two teams.

Andrew Cole controlled the ball well to find Elliott and the winger got in a superb cross to the far post.

Lafferty though, who was clearly having a bit of a mare somehow failed to get the ball over the line. James O’Connor then picked up the loose ball but shot over the goal.

Coyle decided he had to make some further changes so Lafferty was replaced by Blake after 54 minutes and at long last the Clarets started to string some attacks together and put the Hull defence on the back-foot.

However, they held firm and we couldn`t break them down and get that goal to make it game on again.

It was now 70 minutes of play and all hell was about to break loose!

Folan was shown a straight red card for an off the ball clash with Caldwell in the penalty area. So could the Clarets be given a lifeline and beat 10 men? Not quite, Caldwell had also picked up a yellow in the clash and one minute later was walking off himself for a push on the half way line.

James O` Connor was then replaced by Randall on 71 minutes as Coyle further shuffled the pack.

Andrew Cole then got in a good header which was turned onto the crossbar for a corner but the referee was about to see red again before the corner could be taken.

Gudjonsson was clutching his face in the area after falling to the floor. Riley then consulted with his assistant linesman, and all of a sudden Hull Nigerian midfielder Okocha was sent off. 10-9 Burnley!!

Burnley therefore assumed and claimed a penalty for the incident in the box but amazingly the protests turned into a second yellow for Gudjonsson after an earlier booking, so he too then went off for an early bath! 9-9!!

Four players sent off in under seven minutes! We have certainly had some dire referees in recent match as yet another, this time a Premiership one seemed to be losing control with both sets of fans howling in protest. We didn`t of course get that penalty either!

That was enough for all concerned, three points lost for the Clarets and by the time the final whistle came most of the Clarets fans had already left the ground. Oh well bring on Stoke minus Caldwell and Gudjonsson!


Hull: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Dawson, Garcia (Marney 81), Ashbee, Okocha, Pedersen (Walton 90), Folan, Campbell (France 79).

Subs Not Used: Tyler, Clement.

Sent Off: Folan (70), Okocha (76).

Booked: Garcia, Ashbee.

Goals: Campbell 14, Garcia 28.

Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Unsworth, Elliott, James O’Connor (Randall 71), McCann (Gudjonsson 33), Lafferty (Blake 54), Akinbiyi, Cole.

Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Varga.

Sent Off: Caldwell (71), Gudjonsson (77).

Booked: Carlisle, Gudjonsson, Caldwell.

Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).