Date: 24th April 2011 at 1:19pm
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In overall terms Burnley v Portsmouth clashes since our first game in 1927 have been pretty even. The Clarets have won 23, Pompey have won 22 and there have been 8 draws. One of our victories came earlier this year at Fratton Park and it was our first win against them in sometime. Until our 2-1 win this year, the Clarets record against Portsmouth in recent times had been shocking both in our league encounters and cup clashes. You had to go back to the 1981-82 season for our last victory against Pompey before this season and that was in the old Third Division. That season we got the double over them beating them 2-1 away at Fratton Park before convincingly beating them 3-0 at Turf Moor. Since that day the results had been grim! We had played them eleven times in all competitions losing eight and managing just three draw before we faced them again this season.

Our earlier clash this season was played at Fratton Park on the night of Tuesday 25th January 2011 in front of 13,345 fans. The match had been rearranged following the snow and ice in Hampshire during early December when the game had first been scheduled to be played. Former Clarets gaffer, Steve Cotterill was the manager now in charge at Portsmouth and of course our new manager, Eddie Howe had also just been appointed that same month so was still finding his feet and looking for his first win as Clarets boss in only his second game in charge.

Eddie Howe made just one change from the line-up in the previous game away to Scunthorpe. Steven Thompson got a start with Wallace dropping back to the bench.

In summary we lined up as follows:

Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Duff, Fox, Cork, Elliott, Marney, Rodriguez, Thompson, Eagles

Subs: Jensen, Easton, Edgar, Bikey, Alexander, Wallace, Iwelumo

All the goals came in a six minute spell towards the end of the first half. Burnley opened the scoring after 31 minutes when Rodriguez got on the end of a Danny Fox cross to shoot home with his right foot. Our lead did not last long though with a Pompey equaliser coming just two minutes later when John Utaka got in a right footed shot to equalise following some good work by Kanu. It looked like typical Burnley this season being unable to hold on to leads for long. The Clarets fans joy though was soon restored just eight minutes before half-time when a superb overhead kick by Marney soared into the back of the net to give the Clarets a 2-1 lead at the break.

In the second half, Burnley had chances to increase their lead but Pompey too began to come back at the Clarets. Clarke Carlisle and Michael Duff though were majestic in defence and soaked up all the Pompey pressure. In the end the Clarets held on to move up to ninth in the table to within a sniff off the play-off place

Last season Portsmouth were struggling both financially and on the pitch with their very survival as a viable club in the balance after going into administration and suffering a nine-point penalty. They would spend most of the time in the bottom three and eventually be relegated along with the Clarets and Hull City. Pompey finished rock-bottom although had they not had the points deduction they would have finished on 28 points, still in bottom place but only two points behind Burnley!

One of the reasons they did even that well compared to the Clarets, held up to be a vastly more sensible financial savvy club, was for one simple reason. They got the double over us and indeed the loss of those six points particularly the loss at home effectively ensured our relegation.

A very frustrating day out at Fratton Park on Saturday 5th December saw the Clarets go down 2-0 but the most disappointing day was at Turf Moor. Pompey in all sorts of problems, bottom of the league and now in administration were simply playing for pride but somehow beat the Clarets 2-1. That match played on the fateful day on Saturday 27th February 2010 was our third successive game without a point and would see the rot set in at Turf Moor virtually ensuring our relegation since we could not win away for toffee. Although getting a well-earned point in our next home game against Stoke City we would then lose at home to relegation rivals, Wolves which was then followed by a passionless display and home defeat against arch rivals Blackburn Rovers. Could things get any worse? Well yes, in the next match at home we received a 6-1 trouncing at the hands of Manchester City. Fortress Turf Moor had well and truly crumbled and it all started really with that Pompey defeat at home.

At the start of December 2009, things did not look too bad for the Clarets. In our first season in the top flight for 33 years we were holding our own and found ourselves in 11th spot but that would be the highest we would achieve for the rest of the season and the slide would now begin towards the relegation zone. Then as of now we were still looking for our first away win of the season and expectations were high that this could come at Fratton Park with Portsmouth clearly struggling and in bottom place. All Clarets fans too felt confident we would get something from this game and to be honest we should have, such was our dominance for the first 65 minutes of the match. We just couldn`t convert any of our chances though and paid the price.

Owen Coyle was still at the helm but little did we know what a miserable festive season his actions would have on the club but that was to come.

Coyle faced two forced changes to the eighteen against Pompey with on-loan striker, David Nugent ineligible to play against his parent club and his captain, Steven Caldwell suspended after picking up a one match ban for his straight red in the previous game against the Hammers at the Boleyn Ground. As expected Steven Thompson was again on the bench as cover for Steven Fletcher and in the end with a number of options in the back four and midfield, Coyle decided to drop Bikey into the back four from his recent midfield position and give Kevin McDonald a rare start and his first full Premier League debut.

We lined-up therefore as follows:

Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Blake, Fletcher

Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, Easton, Duff, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Thompson

Time after time in the first half we were attacking their goal but it seemed that the attacks always broke down in their penalty area. We should and could have been 2-0 up in the first 30 minutes maybe even more but the chances were squandered

Pompey fans were subdued and quite understandably nervous up until they scored in the 68th minute. This was a must-win game for them. Firmly anchored at the foot of the table another defeat would have made their pending relegation ever closer with an almost impossible mountain to climb. Fair play to them, they got the lifeline they needed but I am not convinced they deserved it. If anything we gifted them the chance by not putting the game beyond their reach in the first half. It looked like it was going to be our day too especially when they even missed a penalty in the first-half; a penalty by the way that should never have been thanks to referee Phil ‘Mr Magoo` Dowd who should have gone to Specsavers! Elliott was adjudged to have brought down Hreidarsson when all Clarets fans could see clearly that Elliott was totally innocent. Match of the Day highlights clearly confirmed this too but Mr Magoo was having none of it as up-stepped a nervous looking Dindane to take the pressure kick from the spot.
The penalty kick was a weak affair and Jensen saved with ease as the Clarets got the justice they deserved.

So a goalless first half came to an end and boy how we would rue those missed chances!

The second half started with the Clarets in control again but once more we just could not break the deadlock. With the Pompey fans edgy and the pressure beginning to tell on their team, Avram Grant adopted his Plan B and brought on Kanu. Sadly for the Clarets, he was quickly into action and was involved in setting up Pompey`s first goal. Kanu picked up a pass from Boateng and sweetly laid-off the ball to Hreidarsson to put him clear on target. The angle looked a little tight but he got in a left foot shot that flew across Jensen into the far corner of the net. The Beast should perhaps have done better but no matter we had paid the price and now the inevitable Pompey drum and chants of ‘Play Up Pompey` echoed across the ground with their relief evident for all to see!

With some of the Clarets players now frustrated and visibly tiring, Coyle decided to freshen things up bringing on Thompson and then Guerrero to replace Blake and Eagles with Burnley looking to get an equaliser in the last 20 minutes of play.

We just couldn`t seem to get back in the game although Bikey got on the end of a corner kick only to see his header fly over the bar.

With six minutes to go, it was game over for the Clarets when Pompey doubled their lead after Dindane headed home from an O`Hara cross to make the final score 2-0 and bring to an end a frustrating afternoon for Burnley.

Things would be far worse though for Burnley when the two sides met again for the return game at Turf Moor. By then we had suffered the Coyle fiasco and Brian Laws was now in charge and struggling with just one win in seven games. Our only hope for survival with such poor away form was to pray for a continuation of ‘Fortress Turf Moor`. Praying proved fruitless though! By the end of the day we would be second from bottom having played what can only be described as a ‘comedy of errors`

Laws made three changes to the team that was crushed during a thirteen minute spell at Villa Park in the previous match; a game we lost 5-2. One change was enforced with David Nugent being ineligible to play against his parent club under the terms of his loan agreement. It was not surprising that Paterson was named as his replacement after coming on from the bench last week and scoring a consolation goal deep into added time against Villa.

The other two changes though were controversial and somewhat puzzling.

Jack Cork after easily being the Man of the Match last Sunday was dropped with the previously lacklustre Wade Elliott returning to the starting eleven. Chris Eagles was also demoted to the bench with Robbie Blake getting a start.

The line-up in summary was as follows:

Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Bikey, Elliott. McDonald, Blake, Paterson, Fletcher.

Subs: Weaver, Edgar, Duff, Jordan, Cork, Thompson, Eagles

County Durham referee, Mark Clattenburg got the game underway and it was soon evident Pompey were here to prove a point with the Clarets on the opposite side of the coin making a very nervy start that would continue for most of the game.

The nerves of both Clarets fans and players were not helped by the fact that Pompey had the ball in the net after just 14 minutes but thankfully Danny Webber’s effort was ruled out for offside. It seemed a perfectly good goal until close inspection revealed that his touch from a short corner was clearly made from an off-side position. Well spotted Mr Clattenburg!

Fletcher and Paterson were trying their best up front but to no avail and it probably came as no surprise when Portsmouth took the lead after just 25 minutes. Nobody could deny they did not deserve it either! Webber found space to get in a low cross to the far post. Carlisle should have been man-marking more effectively but there was Piquionne to simply tap-in with our defence again open to criticism.

At least for a time the goal seemed to wake up the Clarets! Blake on the break linked well with Fletcher but in the end our Scottish international striker could only shoot over the bar. Kevin McDonald then went on a powerful run into the penalty area before unleashing a shot that Pompey keeper, David James had to deal with at the expense of a corner. Corner? Well we all get excited by them (NOT!!), but we still had to score from one this season and that would still be the case!

Burnley though in their best spell of the match finally got a deserved equaliser on 31 minutes after a stunning piece of individual brilliance from Martin Paterson. A long kick by Jensen found the head of Fletcher with the ball falling nicely to Paterson. He had a sixth sense to realise that James was not ideally placed to handle a lob so with the outside of his right boot he tried one and it sweetly went over James into the net to make the score 1-1.

If that was going to boost the Clarets to press on to get the lead with hopefully Pompey`s heads dropping, we were going to be sadly mistaken. Portsmouth were playing out of their skins bless ’em and if we had had only half their passion, the result might have been so different. Pompey continued to press .

Clarets fans were under no illusion by now that this was going to be an easy three points and with the second-half underway things were going to get even more hopeless and desperate.

It took just 10 minutes for Pompey once more to show their fighting spirit. Carlisle having a mare of match with far worse still to come gave away the first of two penalties after a rash panicky challenge on Piquionne. O`Hara took the spot kick but Jensen was equal to it and saved brilliantly blocking the shot to his left.

If only we could get that second goal even though we did not really deserve it, Pompey`s heads could at last drop and we could relieve the nervous tension emanating from three and a half sides of the ground. We should have too on the hour mark when Fletcher missed a sitter from six yards out right in front of goal. Paterson had been a handful for the Pompey defence all afternoon and once more he got the better of them getting in a superb cross from the right. All Fletcher had to do was head the ball down and it was a certain goal. Most Clarets fans still can`t understand how the ball was headed far over the bar but that incident more or less confirmed this was not going to be our day.

Laws at long last decided to bring on Cork and Eagles with the general consensus amongst Clarets fans being that they should have been on from the start! We seemed to perk up for a bit when Fox came close with a long range effort which was just wide of target.

Just as the pressure seemed to be turning in our favour with 15 minutes to go, we chucked-one-in and gifted Pompey a penalty after a bizarre terrible mistake by Clarke Carlisle. Fox had thrown the ball back to him from a throw-in and Carlisle in the area seemed to just freeze getting caught in possession when a big boot and clearance was in order! Utake getting the ball off him was then tripped by Carlisle to give Pompey their second penalty of the afternoon. This time Yebda made no mistake to put Portsmouth 2-1 up and we only had ourselves to blame.

Ricardo Rocha was sent off late in the game for a second bookable offence but it made no odds, ten-men Pompey held on to win only their second away win in 27 attempts in the Premier League this season and break the hearts of all Clarets fans.

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