Date: 10th April 2011 at 7:16pm
Written by:

It seems like ages ago now but we last played Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor in our opening game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday 7th August in front of 17,496 fans. It was a good if less than convincing 1-0 win for the Clarets who were starting life in the Championship again with high expectations following relegation from the top flight after one season in the Premier League.

If truth be known this was by no means a classic match and there were long periods in the game where a neutral might have lost the will to live but it was an encouraging start for the Clarets who of course were looking to make an immediate return to the Premier League playing a side who were also one of the favourites for promotion. Nottingham Forest gaffer, Billy Davies felt aggrieved his team did not get any reward for their efforts. In fairness he does have a point and maybe they deserved to get one as well. 1-1 would probably have been a fairer result and they certainly put us under pressure at times, especially in the second half. Our defence held solid though although Jensen to be honest had very little to do.

Our only injury was Chris McCann and we all know the saga regarding his knee problems. Our line-up for our first game of the season then was as follows:

Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Marney, Elliott, Wallace, Paterson, Iwelumo

Subs: Grant, Cort, Carlisle, Edgar, Eagles, Thompson, Rodriguez

Referee, Colin Webster of Tyne & Wear got the match underway and it was soon clear both sides were being hesitant and cautious in the first 20 minutes or so. The game looked to be turning into a midfield scrap with few scoring opportunities. Forest came close to breaking the deadlock on 25 minutes though when Rob Earnshaw in a one-two latched onto a Dexter Blackstock pass and let rip with a thunderous volley that rattled against the bottom of the post after Jensen managed to get his fingertips to the ball.

The Clarets could not at this stage get in the game and Forest continued to threaten on the break. Bikey however was showing his true class in the centre of defence and frustrated Forest time and time again. Michael Duff did not look on form though and seemed to be having trouble with his passing game. It was no surprise when Laws brought him off on the half-hour mark and replaced him with Clarke Carlisle. The substitution worked and we looked even tighter in defence although Forest seemed to be exploiting the perceived weakness of Fox challenging the left-back on numerous occasions down the right flank.

Burnley were now gradually getting back in this game with Wallace and Paterson on the wings beginning to make inroads and at long last putting the Forest defence under some pressure.

The Clarets then got the breakthrough they needed at the best possible time scoring a goal in added time of the first half. Paterson linked well with Elliott who then ran into space before getting in a perfectly flighted right footed cross. There was Chris Iwelumo to open his account with a header that gave Forest keeper, Lee Camp no hope of saving. So it was 1-0 to Burnley at half-time, much to the relief of Clarets fans after a pretty frustrating first half.

Brian Laws made no changes for the start of the second-half and this time it was the Clarets who off to a flying start albeit without increasing their lead. Camp had to scramble away a free kick from Wallace around the post and from the resulting short corner it was Wallace who pounced again this time getting in a cross which was inch-perfect to find Clarke Carlisle. Carlisle`s header though flew just wide.

Forest now came into the game again and it was the Clarets defence who were now under pressure for long spells in the second half. We seemed to have difficulty clearing our lines in familiar fashion but our solid defence held firm despite the Clarets being unable to relieve the pressure by making inroads at the other end. We could easily have conceded a goal during this spell and but for the wayward shooting by the Forest strikers at times we would have. Blackstock and Earnshaw in particular were wreaking havoc and in one attack after 53 minutes linked well to set up the unmarked Nathan Tyson. With only Jensen to beat and an equaliser looking certain he skied his shot over the bar much to the relief of Clarets fans.

The Clarets finally came into the game with 10 minutes remaining and looked a little sharper with Rodriguez coming on to replace Paterson after 77 minutes and Thompson getting at least a five minute run out after replacing Iwelumo on 85 minutes. Both Iwelumo and Thompson had tested Camp with headers after Alexander had crossed in each case.

A lively looking Rodriguez then got in a testing cross from the right to find Marney who headed just wide and that was it. The Clarets had to hold on for four minutes of added time, but hold on they did to secure the first three points of the season at their first attempt.

The last time the two sides met at Turf Moor before this season was of course during our promotion year of 2009. Now that was a thriller for Clarets fans with Burnley under Owen Coyle thumping Forest 5-0 in a game played on Saturday 14th March 2009 in front of 13055 fans.

Coyle, with no injury concerns or suspensions to worry about did not in the end ring any changes to the sixteen that were selected for the previous Palace game and so once more Jay Rodriguez had to be content with a place on the bench with Martin Paterson partnering Steve Thompson up front. Jay probably thought he might be in with a chance of starting his first match that season for the Clarets after his well taken 4th goal and clincher late on in the Palace game but Coyle remained loyal to his star striker despite Paterson looking tired and off the pace in recent matches.

Our line-up was therefore once more:

Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Alexander, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Paterson, Thompson

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, McDonald, Eagles, Rodriguez.

Referee, Dean Whitestone from Northamptonshire got the game underway on a sunny but blustery day at the Turf.

Steven Thompson was stretchered off with a potentially serious ankle injury after a strong challenge from Wes Morgan in the 8th minute giving the opportunity for young Jay Rodriguez to come on and make a mark.

The game in the first half was to be honest a pretty scrappy affair with few chances for either side but it was livened up in the 19th minute after the Clarets were awarded a free kick near the left side touchline. Robbie Blake hit a superb curler into the top right hand corner of the net over the stunned Forest keeper, Paul Smith. The Clarets now sought to extend their lead and seven minutes before half-time they succeeded thanks to some more Blake magic. Weaving in and out inside the box beating defenders left, right and centre he finally got a cross in with Elliott well-placed in the six yard box to steamroller it home.

So a pretty comfortable 2-0 lead for the Clarets at half-time without having broken sweat. Owen Coyle predictably made no changes for the start of the second half whilst Billy Davies replaced McCleary with Garner.

It didn`t take long for the Clarets to further increase their lead with just 6 minutes of the second half played. Martin Paterson flicked on a looping ball to the back post for Carlisle to thunder in and a score with a powerful header to make it 3-0 with Forest now looking in all sorts of disarray.

Four minutes later and disarray turned to disaster for Forest as the Clarets extended their lead even further thanks to a stunning goal from Jay Rodriguez. Rodriguez got the better of the defender outside the box, turning inside to shoot from 25 yards. The keeper had no chance as the curling ball sailed into the net to make it 4-0 Clarets with some Forest fans now heading for the exits already with still 35 minutes to play.

Another inspired substitution by Coyle saw Gudjonsson come on for McCann after 69 minutes, two minutes after Eagles had replaced Blake. Joey`s first touch was to take a free-kick from fully 40 yards out. The ball was smashed in true Gudjonsson style and was just wide of target. Gudjonsson though did finally score on 73 minutes after Forest failed to clear their lines. The ball nicely dropped to him and he hit it on the volley from 18 yards out to score the Clarets fifth and final goal of the afternoon although we did have further chances to extend that lead.

Eagles tried a great pass but just failed to find Rodriguez in the 75th minute

McGugan almost got Forest a consolation goal from a free kick with 79 minutes played but Jensen managed to tip the ball over.

On 85 minutes, Paterson hit the side netting from a tight angle after an Alexander free kick taken quickly caught Forest off guard.

The referee finally blew for time with Clarets fans ecstatic and Forest fans demoralised. The Clarets to be honest have probably played far better and lost plus Forest were simply not at the races that day. The goals though were opportunist and very well taken with the result setting us up nicely for the play-offs challenges to come.

The last time we played Forest on their home soil was earlier that season on Saturday 13th September 2008 and we won that one too beating them 2-1 thus making it a double over them in our promotion season.

The win was particularly special too since it was the first time we had beaten them at the City Ground for 44 long years!

Graham Alexander was the unlikely hero scoring both our goals. One in the first half from a spectacular free-kick and one from the spot after the Clarets were awarded a penalty in the second half to restore the lead following a Forest equaliser by Earnshaw.

The game will also be remembered for being new signing Steven Thompson`s debut for the Clarets.

We lined-up that day as follows:

Jensen, Jordan, Carlisle, Caldwell, Anderson, McDonald, McCann, Alexander, Elliott, Paterson, Thompson

Subs: Penny, Gudjonsson, Blake, Akinbiyi, Mahon

Nottingham Forest fielded a youthful side with one famous older face on their bench. Former Clarets loan striker, Andrew Cole just one month away from his 37th birthday returned to the sixteen as expected after recovering from a niggling calf injury. Would he face his former colleagues? The strong feeling was that he would at some point and so it proved.

Clive Penton (Sussex) was the referee as the match got underway.
The game started lively as 1133 Clarets fans, braving the trip to Nottingham wondered if they could possibly see their first victory at this ground since 1964.

Thompson looked to battle hard in his debut and it soon became clear this was exactly the type of bruising player we had missed in the last few matches.

Our new striker arrived on transfer deadline day but had had little chance to train with fellow striker,Martin Paterson due to the latter`s Northern Ireland International call up and the two week break.

All eyes were therefore on the two strikers wondering how the partnership would develop and how quickly they would settle down and reach that understanding.

Thompson was soon into action though in our first attack, keeping Wes Morgan at bay his cross was cleared.

Both sides looked attack minded with the game developing into end to end entertainment

A deflected shot from Chris McCann was saved comfortably by Forest keeper, Paul Smith.

Forest striker, Nathan Tyson in the 16th minute should have done better on the break following a mix up between McCann and Alexander but the Clarets survived after he fired over.

The Clarets however were the first to break the deadlock on 25 minutes.

The aggressive Thompson was brought down trying to get possession 25 yards from goal and the referee had no option but to award a free kick. Chris McCann made a gentle tap to Alexander who let rip with a curling right foot shot that soared into net just inside the far post to put the Clarets 1-0 up.

It was Alexander again, relishing his new role just in front of the back four, who on 30 minutes stormed into the Forest half just failing to score his second goal with a left foot shot that went just wide.

With nine minutes of the first half remaining , Kevin McDonald got in a low shot after some nice play between Alexander and Elliott. More pace on the shot and it may have gone in at the near post.

Nottingham Forest seemed unable to break down the Clarets and had to resort to ineffective long balls leaving Jensen little to do for most of the half as the Forest fans frustrations began to grow.

However, Jensen showed he was still alert with just seconds of the half remaining. Danger man, Rob Earnshaw shot from six yards out but somehow ‘The Beast` got a shoulder to the ball to deny the Welsh International.

That was it for the first half as the Clarets marched into the dressing room 1-0 up after a spirited performance.

Owen Coyle would have been the happier of the two managers at half-time and he didn`t feel the need to make any changes as the second half got underway.

Forest gaffer, Colin Calderwood though must have given his team a rocket as they surged into action at the start of the second half with explosive style making the Clarets look like damp squibs.

Within 6 minutes they had equalised as the shell-shocked Clarets wondered what had hit them.

Forest had been awarded a doubtful free kick and as the ball came in, Caldwell got a head to it only to see it cannon off the crossbar straight into the path of Earnshaw. He made no mistake with an empty net in front of him, scoring from just a few yards out.

The Clarets however responded positively and almost immediately after the goal, Thompson got in a header that was cleared but Forest came back on the break.

James Perch got in a shot bringing out a low save by Jensen diving to his left.

How would the Clarets now react with Forest firing on all cylinders, buoyed up by the equaliser?

For a time we were certainly under the cosh as the Forest fire continued and it was time for Coyle to make some changes.

Robbie Blake came on for Paterson after 57 minutes and Gudjonsson replaced McDonald after 63 minutes.

The new injection of fresh legs seemed to work.

Jordan got in a dangerous cross that Smith saved at the expense of a corner. McCann got in a header from the corner bringing out an impressive one-handed save by the Forest keeper.

Akinbiyi then came on for debutant, Thompson with 67 minutes on the clock joining Blake up front and three minutes later the Clarets took the lead 2-1.

Blake pounced after a hesitant Forest defence gave him the chance to feed Akinbiyi. Akinbiyi`s pass back was handled and the referee awarded the Clarets their first penalty since Andy Gray scored from the spot at Charlton in December 2007.

The season`s allocated penalty taker, Graham Alexander stepped up to take the penalty and coolly thundered the ball into the back of the net to restore the Clarets lead.

Former Clarets loan Andrew Cole finally got on with 10 minutes to go in a double substitution with Forest now desperate to get something from the match.

It was Akinbiyi though who nearly made sure of victory after some hesitant defending. He got in a powerful header only for Smith to turn the ball round the post.

The Clarets now had to sweat out the final few minutes of the match, not helped by four minutes of added time being announced. The historic victory was ours though as the final whistle blew, our first win at the City Ground in a remarkable 44 years!!

Join The Vital Debate