Date: 29th December 2008 at 12:33pm
Written by:

Speaking after the Boxing Day gloom and defeat at home by lowly Barnsley, Owen Coyle had this to say:

‘It’s behind us now and we have to make sure we use that disappointment to motivate us and to get that winning feeling back.’

Motivation is not the word I would use to describe our performance in our first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday after being defeated 2-1 by second-from-bottom club, Doncaster Rovers. Nice of the Clarets to give Doncaster Rovers their first back-to-back victory of the season!

The defeat sealed a miserable Christmas for all Clarets fans, something we have been accustomed to over the past few seasons. We were lucky we didn`t drop out of the top six after this grim result, but the scores from the chasing pack`s games were kinder than they could have been and we fall just one place to 5th on 43 points now just 2 points ahead of local rivals, Preston in 7th and eight points behind 2nd placed club, Reading.

Post-Christmas slump is an expression well-known to Clarets fans and somehow we have to quickly get back on track if we are to stand any chance of reaching Nirvana.

Clarets fans also will all be hoping and praying that the Club will not be tempted or forced to sell any of our key players in the January transfer window and jeopardise once more our chances of promotion.

The defeat was made even worse yesterday after Caldwell was red-carded in the first half in a crazy four minutes spell that saw Doncaster get a two goal lead for the first time this season. He will now miss our crucial Cup games against QPR in the FA Cup Third Round at Loftus Road and more importantly our Carling Cup Semi-Final first leg tie against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

In the first half, Doncaster seemed to find ample room in the middle of the park with the Clarets having far too many shaky moments in defence. One of those basic defensive mistakes by Carlisle led to Rovers getting their first goal after 37 minutes. Coppinger being gifted a belated Christmas present made no mistake with a simple tap-in and three minutes later the home crowd couldn`t believe their luck after Caldwell was sent off for blatantly bringing down Richie Wellens in the penalty area. Stock made it 2-0 from the penalty spot albeit at the second attempt. Doncaster had won just four games at the Keepmoat this season all of them 1-0, indeed there had only been 12 goals in total on this ground with eight supplied by the visitors. Bit of a luxury then for Donny fans to be 2-0 up and you can always rely on the Clarets can`t you?

No doubt, we will be told about how brave our ten-men did in the second half making it game on after getting a goal back(Paterson) and putting Donny under pressure for most of the half but let`s be honest we should never have been in that position. I am afraid no excuses can be made for this woeful, spineless performance. Just one point this season from the likes of Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers with twelve points on offer is pathetic really and one has to hope this isn`t a bad omen for the second half of the season which all of a sudden seems to be returning to a certain level of predictability.

Perhaps the fault was Coyle`s team selection yesterday. The performance against Barnsley was poor so it maybe begs the question why did we name the same starting eleven against Doncaster? In fact it was more or less the same sixteen but Kevin McDonald appears to have picked up yet another injury and was replaced by his namesake, Alex MacDonald on the bench. I just wonder too if we have all underestimated the balance that Gudjonsson brings to the midfield, his more defensive midfield qualities and control in the centre of the park seemed to be sorely missed yesterday.

Our team sheet however was as follows:

Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson

Subs: Penny, Mahon, Gudjonsson, A.MacDonald, Thompson

Trevor Kettle blew his whistle (as he would being a kettle!) for the start of the match with 3,080 Clarets fans at the Keepmoat looking for some Christmas cheer as the home side kicked off in somewhat windy conditions.

The Clarets looked the more determined to score in the first few minutes forcing a couple of corners within the first five minutes of play. Sullivan made the first save of the match from a Duff header.

A few minutes later and the ball then had to be cleared off the line at the far post after Blake tried a cheeky chip following some excellent approach work by Elliott.

Cracks though then appeared to show in our defence when in the 16th minute, Carlisle was too slow to react to a long ball upfield allowing Heffernan to charge towards goal with only Jensen to beat. Not for the first time this season, Jensen stood his ground and pulled off a good save.

Doncaster Rovers were now buoyed up and the Clarets had to endure a number of shaky moments. Coppinger in the 25th minute sliced through the defence before shooting but yet again Jensen was alert to the danger and saved well.

Another Blake corner soon after led to Carlisle coming close with an header at the near post but Sullivan`s stomach got in the way!

The moment then arrived in the 32nd minute when had we scored in hindsight the outcome of the game could have been so different. Mills fouled McCann and Blake from the free-kick hit the underside of the crossbar to deny the Clarets the lead.

Four minutes later, a farce in defence led to Rovers taking the lead instead.

Jordan made a hash of an attempted clearance by ballooning the ball only for Carlisle to compound the error with a poor header. Coppinger was there to simply tap home. What a joke!

One minute later and things went from bad to worse for the Clarets. Wellens looked to expose the Burnley defence for the umpteenth time and clumsily and blatantly, Caldwell had no option but to cynically bring down the player in the area. The red-card would mean an automatic two match ban for Caldwell and meant for the Clarets that yet again we would now face Doncaster Rovers for most of the match with just ten men as we had in the earlier encounter last month at Turf Moor.

Stock scored from the penalty spot but then had to retake it after the referee had spotted encroachment. It made no difference; the Rovers captain once more sent Jensen the wrong way.

The Clarets would now have almost an impossible task to come back from 2-0 down with only ten men and now we would have to attempt the impossible.Michael Duff now found himelf at centre back with Graham Alexander reverting to right back.

At least we survived the first half without any further goals but this was certainly not going to be a Christmas cracker for Clarets fans with yet another torrid festive season on the cards.

The second-half was a different Trevor (sorry Kettle) of Fish with somehow the ten brave men fighting back and dominating the half but it was always going to be one hurdle too many to get anything from this game.

Paterson though in his usual style never gave up and nearly scored early in the second half after trying to curl a ball past Sullivan after pouncing on a defensive error. Sullivan though dealt with the danger at his near post.

Carlisle redeemed himself slightly after his earlier costly blunder with a superb tackle to deny Heffernan who would have been clean through on goal. Jensen a few moments later then saved at point-blank range to tip over a Coppinger shot.

On 62 minutes, the Clarets ensured that it was game-on by pulling a goal back after a superb mazy run by Elliott through the middle of the park to the edge of the box. He passed to Paterson to cut in from the right to score.

Rovers though were quick to counter-attack after the goal and Jensen once more came to the rescue in an acrobatic fling to tip over a deflected shot by former Clarets midfielder, John Spicer.

Coyle now tried a more attacking formation buoyed by the goal and brought on Gudjonsson for the lacklustre McCann after 69 minutes and then Thompson for Blake on 76 minutes

It was a brave attempt but it wasn`t to be and the equaliser proved elusive in the end despite having most of the second-half possession.

What a terrible Christmas this has turned out to be and now we have to turn our attention to the two cup matches against QPR and Spurs down in London before we can attempt to get our promotion hopes back on track. Somehow we have to get the motivation and confidence back if we are to stand any chance of reaching Wembley and we have to do it in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final without our captain, Steven Caldwell. I suppose it could have been worse with three other players in the team sweating on four yellows knowing a fifth would mean they missed the Carling Cup first leg. Thankfully neither Elliott, Eagles nor Paterson came unstuck although there were a few nervy moments. Jordan was booked but that was his sixth yellow and he is already punished by missing the QPR game. Carlisle is also starting to build up his account again too by picking up yet another yellow.

What a way to end 2008. Baa Bloody Humbug!!


Doncaster: Sullivan, O’Connor, Mills, Hird, Chambers, Stock, Wellens (Roberts 88), Woods, Spicer (Taylor 82), Coppinger, Heffernan (Lockwood 90).

Subs Not Used: Guy, Wilson.

Booked: Heffernan.

Goals: Coppinger 37, Stock 40 pen.

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Alexander, McCann (Gudjonsson 69), Eagles, Paterson, Blake (Thompson 76).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon, MacDonald.

Sent Off: Caldwell (39).

Booked: Jordan, Carlisle.

Goals: Paterson 62.

Ref: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).