Date: 5th April 2009 at 12:14pm
Written by:

The Clarets came away with a point in a 1-1 draw against Derby County at Pride Park yesterday. It should have been three points though after a momentary lapse of reason in the dying seconds of added time allowed a very poor Rams side to equalise.

Burnley were completely in charge of this game with long periods of possession and a goal by McCann looked to have sealed the game after he had given the Clarets the lead from six yards on 59 minutes. A very poor homer of a referee helped ensure we were not further ahead after refusing to give a cast iron penalty. He also refused to punish a number of blatant fouls notably from Robbie Savage. How some of the Rams players escaped getting booked is beyond me, in some cases they didn`t even get a talking to. Typical then that Paterson was the first name to go in the book!

Derby were a very poor side indeed and I overheard a number of Rams fans saying the same as I walked back to the Station. They only seemed to have one idea, hoofing it up in hope that Rob Hulse would do the business. How typical then that their one real attack that looked threatening all afternoon should give Derby County an undeserved point after Connolly scored with a diving header in the third-minute of injury time.

How many times have we lost points this season in the last minute or so of a game and how many times has a draw felt like a defeat? It certainly felt like it again at Pride Park yesterday and we were lucky that the loss of two points didn`t have greater repercussions on our play-off hopes.

In a sense now in order to ensure a play-off spot we can forget about the current sides in the Top Six and concentrate on keeping some clear blue water between the seventh placed club and those sides just below. Thankfully yesterday, the seventh placed club Preston were unable to defeat Bristol City, currently 8th at Ashton Gate in the late afternoon game with both sides only getting a point in a 1-1 draw.

The Clarets therefore remain in 5th place and crucially still have a four point advantage over Preston with games rapidly running out. We could drop to 6th place today though if Cardiff currently 6th defeat 9th placed Swansea in the local derby at Ninian Park today. If Cardiff lose they will still be only 3 points behind the Clarets with two games in hand plus Burnley still having to play them away.

The home game against QPR next Saturday is a massive one for the Clarets with no margin for error in a match where three points are essential. A win on Saturday could open up a six-seven point lead over 7th placed Preston if they lose or can only draw against Blackpool in the local derby at Deepdale next week. A Clarets victory under those circumstances could virtually assure we are in the play-offs with just four games to play providing we keep our cool.

The result though was disappointing and a victory yesterday could even have kept our slim hopes of automatic promotion alive. The Clarets are currently six points behind second place Birmingham who play their game in hand against league leaders Wolves at home on Monday. It is still not mathematically impossible but it would be a mountain to climb and would require Birmingham and other teams in the Top Six to have a bad run.

The good news for Clarets fans at the start of the game at Pride Park was that all of our injured players were able to make the starting eleven (with the exception of Steven Thompson who is still struggling with a ankle ligament injury). This meant that Alexander and Paterson were able to play after recovering from hamstring injuries and Rhys Williams was also available after suffering from a calf injury.

The Clarets lined up as follows:

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

Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Rodriguez

Hertfordshire referee, Grant Hegley got the match underway on a bright, sunny afternoon at Pride Park in front of a packed house of 33,010 fans including 2000 or so supporting the Clarets.

Wade Elliott on the break in the third minute was soon to experience Savage by name, savage by nature as the crude midfielder hacked at his heels in a blatant foul that should have been more severely punished.

Rams Winger, Gary Teale cut in from the left before shooting but Brian Jensen was equal to the shot getting down low to save.

Dirty Derby`s exploits continued a minute later when former Clarets loan, Jay McEveley somehow also escaped the attention of the referee after getting away with obstruction on Chris Eagles before Elliott got a hand in his face trying to complain.

In a pulsating game, Clarke Carlisle`s looping header hit the crossbar with the ball falling to Rhys Williams who pulled the trigger from 18 yards out. Bywater though pulled off a great save to deny the Welsh U21 International.

The Clarets were by now dominating the game and looked the most likely to break the deadlock.

A desperate tackle denied Paterson before Eagles tried a long range effort that was off target. Derby County were now looking rattled although Teale was busy on the left wing and brought out a one handed save from Jensen in the 21st minute with the ball being tipped over the bar. The winger then went on a run through our defence and was only half challenged before Hulse attempted and failed to score from a tight angle with Jensen mopping up the danger.

In typical fashion it was then one of Burnley`s players that was first in the book after Paterson was yellow-carded for a late lunge on Paul Connelly. A foul it certainly was but it was no worse than some of Derby`s which had gone unpunished.

At least this homer of referee was to waive away a Derby penalty appeal, quite rightly after Commons decided to fall down in the box.

The Clarets put together a number of attacks in the last 15 minutes of the first half but just couldn`t break the deadlock. A quickly taken free kick by Savage in the 38th minute caught the Clarets defence off guard and Jensen had to use his feet to deny Hulse from six yards out.

So 0-0 at half-time with the Clarets having the better of the action and looking the most likely to score in the second half.

Both sides were unchanged for the start of the second half and the game was quite subdued compared to the frantic first half until that is the Clarets finally broke the stalemate in the 58th minute.

Carlisle put Eagles on a charge who after a nice one-two with Elliott put in a speculative low cross into the area. The shaky Derby defence then failed to handle the danger and Bywater added to their problems by fumbling the ball. McCann said ‘thank you very much` and tapped home the ball from a yard out to put the Clarets deservedly 1-0 up.

A 30 yard screamer by Blake then nearly doubled our advantage on 70 minutes but his shot was just inches wide with the ball hitting the side netting.

Coyle then decided to ring the changes. Joey Gudjonsson came on to replace Chris Eagles and six minutes later, Jay Rodriguez replaced Paterson.

What looked a blatant penalty after Gudjonsson was through on goal before being felled from behind was incredibly turned away by the referee. You have to question that decision. Gudjonsson was clear on goal so why would he fall?

With nine minutes to go, Coyle was forced to make his final substitution. Duff came on for Alexander after a calf strain ensured it would be the first time that the Scottish International would fail to complete a game for the Clarets this season. His first in 53 games!

The Clarets by now looked to be cruising to victory as the clock ticked down painfully slowly. The Rams seemed to have given up with their fans already leaving Pride Park in their droves. They would live to regret that sadly for the Clarets.

Blake would have put them out of their misery had he been able to better control the ball towards the end of 90 minutes. Three minutes of added time was announced by the fourth official and surely we could hold out now. The answer was ‘no we couldn`t` when from nowhere in the final minute of added time, a moment`s lapse of concentration allowed Connolly to head home a Teale cross and break the hearts of the travelling Clarets fans. A point away from home is a point but this should have been three points after coming so close.

Oh well it could have been worse particularly if Preston had also won but thankfully they didn`t and we still look a strong candidate for a play-offs spot.


Derby: Bywater, Connolly, Albrechtsen, Nyatanga, McEveley, Bannan, Savage, Pearson (Kazmierczak 84), Teale, Hulse, Commons (Villa 75).

Subs Not Used: Price, Todd, Eustace.

Booked: Bannan.

Goals: Connolly 90.

Burnley: Jensen, Williams, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Elliott, Alexander (Duff 81), McCann, Eagles (Gudjonsson 70), Paterson (Rodriguez 76), Blake.

Subs Not Used: Penny, McDonald.

Booked: Paterson.

Goals: McCann 59.

Ref: Grant Hegley (Hertfordshire).