Date: 22nd January 2009 at 3:56pm
Written by:

I have just returned from up North after seeing the lads nearly pull off one of the most remarkable achievements in their history. We lost on aggregate 6-4 to Spurs in the Carling Cup Semi Final after beating them 3-2 last night but that doesn`t begin to tell the story of how this match was played out.

This is going to be one of the most difficult match reports I have ever had to write and I apologise now if my sentimental side, frustration and anger come through but quite simply I am gutted and going through so many emotions my head is spinning!

Before this Carling Cup Semi-Final second leg at Turf Moor last night, I like all Clarets fans were just hoping for a miracle after the flattering 4-1 score line for Spurs hit us for six in the first leg. This result though paled into insignificance compared to what was about to happen to us.

I have just read my Match Preview again on how we could possibly pull this one back and it is heartbreaking because it almost happened and was happening until two minutes remaining of extra time. Yes we were just within two minutes of achieving the Wembley dream and it hurts, it hurts like hell. Spurs fans will forgive me, but they have been there quite a few times over the years and last night we played a team with multi-million pound players in their side, one of them alone, Defoe cost more than our whole squad put together and yet we gave them a lesson in passion & determination that would make all our fans proud to be a Claret.

We did it in front of the Sky Sports cameras and we won a lot of fans, both Spurs fans and neutrals in the way we approached this game and came so very close. I appreciate all the comments and best wishes people have been posting on Vital Burnley about our fantastic performance but to lose like that with just two minutes to go is just too much for me to cope with at the moment. Oh I will get over it, just like I have had to numerous times over the years, but if God likes football he isn`t wearing a Claret & Blue shirt and hasn`t really much since 1960!

In my match preview I put forward a scenario that would be the only way that I could see the Clarets clawing the three goal deficit back and getting through. It would be highly dependent on making that away goal count. I never thought the mountain to climb would be achievable but to come so close at the top of Mount Everest only makes it worse.

It`s like we climbed that peak to get to 3-0 and just as we were about to celebrate, two White Yetis called Pavlovafeatures and Defoe chucked us off the top!

Yes, two goals by Spurs in the final two minutes sealed our fate after giving them a lesson in how to play football for 118 minutes not to mention the first 45 minutes in the first leg.

Of course any other Cup competition and the aggregate score would have counted after 90 minutes and we would have been through but no we had to play another half an hour as if to prove ourselves yet again and we did for 28 minutes of it! Cruel, damn bloody cruel

The moral victory is ours but the morale of all things Claret has taken a battering and somehow we have to get back on track on Saturday and plot the next Wembley campaign this time via the FA Cup in a tricky away tie, again against Premier League opposition namely West Brom at the Hawthorns. We then have to turn our attention to our promotion hopes again which have also taken a battering in recent weeks with no win now in four games. Woe, woe and thrice woe!

I suppose not many Championship sides will ever again be able to say that in one season they were able to beat four Premier League sides in a game of football and the scalps of Fulham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs (albeit not on aggregate) does look pretty impressive but somehow at the moment the way I am feeling it also counts for nothing.

Well I suppose I will now have to relive the game and tell you how it unfolded, even though it is giving me palpitations and I can feel my blood pressure rising.

The Clarets would be without two players for this match.

Captain Steven Caldwell was suspended as he was in the first leg this time for picking up a fifth yellow and Steve Thompson was cup tied.

The Clarets therefore lined up very much as expected with Kevin McDonald making a welcome return on the bench.

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

Subs: Penny, Kalvenes, McDonald, Mahon, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Akinbiyi

Spurs although having their own injury problems still managed to put out an impressive team on paper which included the likes of Defoe, Modric, Dawson and Woodgate not to mention that pesky O`Hara who caused the Clarets so much damage when he came on in the second half of the first leg at White Hart Lane.

In a rain soaked, windswept Turf Moor (That`s the last time I get a James Hargreaves Lower ticket near the front and at one end), Clarets fans could not have imagined what was about to unfold as Hertfordshire-born Lancashire referee, Mark Halsey got the match underway.

The Clarets nearly got the lead after just five minutes after a strange back pass by Assou-Ekotto nearly led to an own goal. Spurs debutant keeper, Ben Alnwick though managed to save well and push the ball wide.

Moments later and it Brian Jensen’s turn to shine saving well from Defoe.

The game was now flowing well with both sides playing the passing game and looking for the breakthrough despite the terrible weather.

McCann was just wide from distance on 22 minutes. Elliott then linked well with Eagles in the box on 30 minutes but the former United player`s shot was deflected away for a corner.

Three minutes later though and the Clarets set the game alight by taking the lead after being awarded a free kick. Up stepped Robbie Blake and he hit the ball to perfection to beat a two man wall and a desperately diving Alnwick.

Could the dream be about to happen with the first goal achieved? Get another and the pressure on Spurs would really begin to set in.

Jordan had to be replaced by Kalvenes due to injury on 38 minutes but the upbeat Clarets seemed undeterred and played out the half, much the stronger of the two teams.

No changes by either side for the start of the second-half and it was the Clarets who were the first on the attack after Gunter headed clear an Elliott cross for a corner.

Modric came close for Spurs on 47 minutes shooting just over the bar from the edge of the box and then substitute Bale should have done better with a shot that skimmed across the face of goal just after the hour mark.

Defoe had been subdued in the first half but suddenly sprung to life on 66 minutes after a defensive slip by Carlisle. He pounced and charged towards goal only for Jensen to stop him in his tracks.

The ascent of Everest then took a major step forward on 72 minutes when the Clarets went 2-0 up!

Blake danced and weaved himself into the box beating two defenders before getting in a pin-point accurate cross for McCann to slot home from six yards out. 2-0 Clarets and remember the Match Preview scenario? Somehow we had to get 2-0 up with about 20-30 minutes to play? My god, we had done it!

Pavlyuchenko had now come on for Spurs from the bench and should have done better with a shot on 77 minutes. He put the ball wide somehow when it looked a certain goal.

83 minutes and Dawson saved the day for Spurs blocking an Eagles cross.

Jay Rodriguez had been brought on for Gudjonsson after 81 minutes and he was now about to become the cup hero again as the Clarets finally scaled Everest to go 3-0 up in the 89th minute.

Alnwick made a hash of a crossed ball and Rodriguez latched onto his fumble to hit the back of the net. 3-0 with three sides of Turf Moor now in ecstasy! 4-4 on aggregate with the Clarets away goal potentially counting double if we could last out for 30 minutes of extra time about to start.

Jensen denied Huddlestone with a superb save just two minutes into extra time and four minutes later he saved the day again this time from Pavlyuchenko.Spurs were now turning up the heat and putting the Clarets under the most pressure we had endured all during the match..

Burnley had their moments though and Rodriguez almost got free before Zokora tackled well to stop his advance on goal. The Clarets held on though as the first period of extra time came to an end. It was still 3-0 and a place at Wembley with just 15 minutes to last out. The Clarets dream was still on but the cruel, nastiness of football was about to enter the arena.

Second period of extra time underway and Spurs were again on the attack, Bale shooting directly at Jensen two minutes in. Now all the Clarets on the pitch were helping out in defence, Blake came to the rescue with five minutes to go crucially intercepting the ball in his own box.

It wasn`t to be though, and now I am visibly shaking with anger, frustration and quite a few tears whilst I write this next paragraph.

Two minutes to go and Pavlyuchenko beats Jensen at the near post to break the hearts of anybody and everybody associated with the Club and then just to rub salt in all our wounds Spurs get another two minutes later with Defoe sealing it for the London side.

They lose 3-2 but win on aggregate but there was really only one victor in this game and that was football championed by the Clarets who showed just what could be done with passion and little money!

It`s a funny old game indeed, but I am not laughing!


Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan (Kalvenes 39), Elliott, Eagles, Gudjonsson (Rodriguez 81), McCann, Blake, Paterson (Akinbiyi 100).

Subs Not Used: Penny, McDonald, Mahon, MacDonald.

Booked: McCann, Duff.

Goals: Blake 34, McCann 73, Rodriguez 88.

Tottenham: Alnwick, Gunter (Taarabt 95), Woodgate, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Zokora, Huddlestone, O’Hara (Bale 62), Modric (Pavlyuchenko 65), Defoe.

Subs Not Used: Cesar, Giovani, Campbell, Rocha.

Booked: Bentley.

Goals: Pavlyuchenko 118, Defoe 120.

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).