Date: 13th March 2014 at 10:02am
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The Clarets unbeaten league run continued last night following the 3-3 draw against Birmingham City at St Andrews. The run is now extended to thirteen games without defeat with Middlesbrough being the last team to beat Burnley in the match at the Riverside on Boxing Day. It was though in the end a very frustrating result with the Clarets coming within a whisker of picking up all three points until Birmingham equalised in the dying seconds of added time under controversial circumstances. Three times Burnley got their noses in front only to be pegged back. Dean Marney was first on the score sheet putting the Clarets ahead in the 30th minute to give Burnley a 1-0 lead at half-time. The first-half to be honest was a pretty dire, scrappy affair but boy did it come alive in the second half with both teams suddenly playing an open style of football leading to three goals in five minutes just past the hour mark. Macheda came on from the bench on the hour mark with Lee Clark deciding to change formation from 4-1-4-1 and put two up front. The tactic worked with Macheda getting an equaliser four minutes after the substitution. Back though came the Clarets three minutes later when Michael Duff got his first goal of the season, indeed his first since Boxing Day 2012 to make it 2-1. The football was now frantic and Burnley`s lead lasted just two minutes, Huws getting on the score sheet to level the scores once again for the hosts. Our defence was looking a little ragged at times and the game certainly could now have gone either way with both sides creating chances. The Clarets stuck to their task though and four minutes from time Sam Vokes made it 3-2. It looked like another win for Burnley was now on the cards as the game entered the final minute of added time but then disaster struck when Macheda chested in the leveller from Tyler Blackett’s cross to rob the Clarets of two points. It was a controversial goal and Burnley were certainly not happy with all the players except Heaton crowding the referee in protest. They claimed Macheda had handled the ball but not only that it looked like there might also have been a foul in the build-up. The protests were in vain though and in the end Burnley had to settle for a point. Most Clarets fans would have taken a point at the start of this game but will now feel frustrated and annoyed that we came so close to a win. Nevertheless, we of course remain in second spot and are still eight points clear of third-placed Derby who could only manage a 0-0 draw on Tuesday night in their home game against Bolton. We also pulled further ahead of fourth placed QPR who remain on 60 points following their 2-0 defeat away to Brighton on Tuesday night. The Clarets now have a 10 point lead over the Rs albeit having played a game more. Things are still looking good for the Clarets but there was one particularly worrying incident in this match with Danny Ings picking up an ankle injury having to be replaced in the 75th minute. He was reportedly seen leaving the ground on crutches after the game and the club are saying they will assess the extent of the injury today which all sounds a bit ominous. Let`s all hope and pray it doesn`t prove too serious.

Team Sheet

Sean Dyche could easily have named the same starting eleven for the ninth consecutive game but instead chose to make one change. Ross Wallace looked impressive when he came on from the bench against Rovers at Ewood Park on Sunday and was influential in ensuring we came away with all three points. He was rewarded with his first start since August. Michael Kightly made way and was named on the bench. Our line up then was as follows :

Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Wallace, Jones, Marney, Arfield, Ings, Vokes

Subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Stanislas, Kightly, Treacy, Barnes

Full Match Report

Referee, James Linington got the match underway and the Clarets dominated proceedings in the early stages with Danny Ings in particular looking lively and determined. The Blues couldn`t handle his pace on the break. In the 11th minute, Burnley crafted an opportunity for Trippier from a corner routine but his first time-volley flew over the bar. The first twenty minutes of the game turned into a pretty tight, scrappy affair and there was very little between the sides. Chris Burke for the hosts was trying his best but Heaton was rarely challenged. Ings and Vokes linked well to set up Arfield midway through the half but his shot was blocked just inside the box. The Clarets although not creating many chances looked comfortable and even more so when they finally got their noses in front in the 30th minute. A cross to the far post from the right confused the Birmingham defence and there was Marney to tap home from close range and notch up his third goal from the last seven games. Five minutes before half-time, the lead was almost doubled following a quick break by the Clarets. The counter-attack allowed Ings to set up Marney in the penalty area but the Blues managed to get back and block his attempted shot. The Clarets went into the break with a fairly comfortable 1-0 lead although the game was certainly not a classic at this stage. That was about to change in the second-half.

Neither side many any changes for the start of the second half and Brum came out looking far more determined to get the equaliser. The hosts stormed out of the blocks with the Clarets seemingly unable to settle. A ball across the six-yard box from Burke nearly set up Novak but he just failed to reach it. Burnley still looked in control though mopping up most of the Blues pressure and looking threatening on the attack. In the 57th minute, an out-swinging corner from Jones to the far post allowed Vokes to pounce but his header flew just wide of the post. On the hour mark though, the Birmingham gaffer made an inspired substation bringing on Macheda for Lee whilst also moving to a more attack minded 4-4-2 formation. In the 64th minute, the Blues were awarded a free kick from inside their own half and the ball was kicked into the path of Macheda. The Manchester United loanee striker made no mistake coolly slotting the ball past Heaton to bring the scores level. The Clarets though did not allow their heads to drop and within three minutes had regained the lead. The goal came from a Trippier free-kick aimed at the far post. There was Duff rising unmarked to head the ball home into the corner of the net. The madness continued though and this time the Clarets were on the receiving end again after the Blues once more equalised just two minutes later. A cross from the left had been headed away but the ball fell to Huws who controlled the ball well before unleashing a shot from 25 yards out that was simply unstoppable. The game at 2-2 was certainly an open affair now and everybody could sense there would be more goals to come. Both sides were now looking for the winner and both managers decided to freshen things up. On came Zigic for Shinnie for the hosts whilst Sean Dyche brought on Stanislas to replace the ineffective Wallace. Burnley fans hearts sank though in the 75th minute when Ings picked up what looked like a bad injury to his ankle. He was replaced by Barnes. The Clarets continued to battle hard and their efforts were rewarded in the 86th minute when they got their noses in front for the third time. The fresh legs of Stanislas were paying dividends and this time after running at the Blues defence, the former West Ham winger put over a low cross that flew across the six-yard box. Vokes was there to convert and give the Clarets what looked like the winning goal. 1,593 Clarets fans had made the journey to the Midlands and all of them were now in ecstasy but it wasn`t to be with Birmingham about to deliver a sting in the tail deep into added time. Before that though, the Blues almost equalised immediately when Spector shot on the turn only to see the ball fly wide of target. Arfield then came to the rescue clearing a header off the line from a corner. Five minutes of added time were announced and we looked to be holding onto victory until that is we entered the final minute of stoppage time when Macheda despite a strong suspicion of handball managed to chest the ball home and spoil the night for all Clarets fans. The Burnley players were incensed at the decision to allow the goal to stand and crowded round the referee but it didn`t do any good and in the end Clarets fans and the players had to accept the disappointment and be content with a point.

Match Stats

Birmingham City: Randolph, Spector, Blackett, Adeyemi, Packwood, Robinson, Lee (Macheda-60), Huws, Novak, Burke, Shinnie (Zigic-79)

Subs Not Used: Doyle, Martin, Ibe, Caddis, Rusnák

Goals: Macheda (64, 90+5) and Huws (69)

Booked: Yellow Cards for Lee (33), Robinson (67)

Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Wallace (Stanislas-62), Jones, Marney, Arfield (Edgar-90+2), Ings (Barnes – 75), Vokes

Subs Not Used: Cisak, Long, Kightly, Treacy

Booked: Shackell (90 + 5)

Goals: Marney (30), Duff (67) and Vokes (86)

Possession: 45% Birmingham, 55% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: James Linington (Newport, Isle of Wight)