Date: 1st October 2012 at 10:51am
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Millwall have taken all three points on their last two visits to Turf Moor and once again they managed to frustrate the Clarets and come away with something in our home clash on Saturday. This time though they only managed a draw scoring in added time to make the final score 2-2. It was at times a bad tempered affair full of controversy particularly when it involved the officials making decisions! Burnley looked to have the game in the bag when on 63 minutes Stanislas seemingly scored to make it 3-1 Clarets. The goal music had already started and 3-1 clocked up on the score board after the referee had indicated a goal! What followed next was bizarre to say the least! Millwall protested claiming Paterson had been in offside position in the build-up to the goal, so much so that the referee, Craig Pawson decided to consult with his assistant, William Smallwood. With the ball already on the centre spot waiting for the restart, the referee decided to reverse his decision and scratch off the goal! Pawson simply seemed to lose the plot after that not to mention control of the game. He was now certainly receiving a hostile reception from the home fans and was also handing out yellow cards ‘willy nilly` in an effort to calm proceedings on the pitch which only seemed to make matters worse. The end result was that Burnley seemed to have the stuffing taken out of them by that decision with Millwall gradually getting back in the game and fighting for the equaliser. The Lions had countless opportunities to level things up so it was nothing less than they deserved when they finally hit the back of the net with Burnley trying desperately to hang on in the five minutes of added time.

The Clarets then had once more fluffed their chance to make headway in the Championship table. Three points on Saturday with another home game coming up on Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday could have seen the Clarets ideally placed just two points off the play-off spots going into the Owls game. Instead they now languish in 16th spot, four points behind sixth placed club, Huddersfield but worryingly also only three points too away from the drop zone.

Things are just not clicking at the club at the moment either on or off the pitch and the problems seem to be affecting fans morale. Does the club have any direction and a plan for the future? It all seems aimless at the moment and the new joint Chairmen need to get a grip. The lack of atmosphere at Turf Moor these days not to mention the dwindling crowd seem to speak volumes. The performances are not great and there appears to be a lack of cohesion on the pitch. It is all a far cry from the heady, exciting football played under Owen Coyle during our promotion season. We simply have to hope Eddie Howe can turn this round and get his team playing attractive football again because if not the writing could be on the wall for him if we continue in this vein. Already Burnley fans are beginning to suggest things were even better under Brian Laws which is pretty hard to swallow for many and are a sign of how bad things may have become.

Burnley`s fortunes against Millwall though might have been better had captain, Jason Shackell not pulled-up in the warm-up. Shackell had been touch-and-go all week but had seemingly passed a late fitness test to get a place in the starting eleven. However, in the warm-up he suffered a recurrence of an injury to the back of his knee with Howe forced into making a late change. The centre pairing would now be Michael Duff, taking over as captain and David Edgar who was originally going to be named on the bench. Stanislas was also a doubt but he passed a late fitness test and was included in the starting eleven. Eddie Howe opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Paterson partnering Austin up front. The team in summary then was as follows :

Grant, Trippier, Mee, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Stanislas, Austin, Paterson

Subs: Jensen, Mills, Long, Stock, Bartley, Stewart, Vokes

If Burnley had been hoping for a good start, their hopes were soon dashed after Millwall got their noses front as early as the third minute. The Clarets got caught out on the break with Trotter charging forward from midfield and linking well with Keogh. Picking up the return pass, Trotter sweeped the ball past Grant to give the Lions, who had lost their last three games an early lead. The fear was that Burnley`s confidence would now crumble but to their credit they did not let their head`s drop and began to instantly fight for the equaliser

A long ball from Edgar led to a mistake by Forde who was unable to handle the danger setting up a chance for Paterson. Shittu though won the race to the ball clearing the ball off the line. The keeper made a better job of Burnley`s next effort punching away the ball following a fierce drive from McCann. A livelier looking Stanislas should perhaps have done better at the near post after latching onto a ball pulled back by Paterson but he missed his chance. The Clarets though having a good spell were finally rewarded from a corner taken by Stanislas in the 19th minute. Mee timing his run to perfection charged into the box to head home and notch up his first goal for the Clarets indeed of his career to make the score 1-1. The home fans annoyance with the referee took a turn for the worse when he turned down claims for a penalty after Shittu looked to have blocked a Paterson effort on target with his hands. The referee then refused to accept another penalty claim after Lions defender Alan Dunne punched away a cross.

Burnley though were now having most of the possession and looked the most likely of the two teams to score next. Stanislas came close to giving the Clarets the lead from a direct free kick but his curling long-range effort stubbornly flew just inches over the bar. Millwall though continued to pose a threat. Grant had to deal with a thunderous volley from Scott Malone managing to touch the ball onto the bar before coming to the Clarets rescue again diving full length to keep out an effort from James Henry.

Austin had been contained and strangely subdued for most of the half but he suddenly burst into action in the 43rd minute to give the Clarets the lead just before half-time and boy did he do it in style! Trippier did all the hard work setting up Austin from 15 yards out. Finding space our leading marksman sent a delightful header arching into the top corner of the net to increase his goal tally to now eleven for the season.

It was a perfect end to the half giving Burnley a psychological advantage but any hope that Millwall would now fold soon faded as the second half got underway. The Lions came charging out of the blocks looking to get back on level terms obviously buoyed up by Kenny Jackett`s half-time team talk. Our defence now had to hold firm under the pressure and by and large they did just that. A dangerous-looking free-kick from Malone had to be headed clear by McCann with Millwall continuing to turn the screw. Burnley held firm though and their brave efforts looked to have been rewarded in the 63rd minute when Stanislas put the ball in the net and the referee awarded a goal. Stanislas had latched onto a return pass from Paterson and running clear had thumped a low shot past Forde. A retrospective reversal of the decision by the officials though dampened the celebrations after Paterson involved in the build-up was now allegedly deemed to have been offside. Burnley`s influence on the game now suffered with the goal scratched off and once again we looked to be under the cosh unable to respond.

There was now a lot of anger both on and off the pitch and at times the tension between the two teams over spilled into aggression with the referee unable to control proceedings. In the end there was a total of eight bookings, four yellow cards for his side! The Clarets still had the odd chance to increase their lead. Stanislas blasted a shot over the bar and Edgar saw an effort cleared off the line by Jack Smith but Millwall looked the most determined to get something from the game. A Woods effort was headed against the bar but still the Lions would not give up and they were finally rewarded with an equaliser two minutes into the five minutes of stoppage time just when it looked like the Clarets were about to hold on for all three points. Substitute, Darius Henderson steered a left-foot shot past Grant to break the Clarets fans spirit and to be honest they deserved their point and could even have got a late winner. Again it was Henderson, this time though his effort took a deflection off Ben Mee with the ball hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing down on the line and away to safety. Millwall must love coming to Turf Moor they now have an unbeaten record on our ground stretching back seven years. In the end though this is one game we badly needed to win and although things may have been different had the Stanislas goal not been disallowed, Burnley have to start improving and begin to play with some consistency otherwise there could be bleak times ahead this season.

Match Stats

Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Mee, Duff, Edgar, Wallace (Stewart 90), Marney, McCann (Bartley 71), Stanislas, Austin, Paterson (Vokes 75)

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Mills, Long, Stock

Goals: Mee 19, Austin 43

Booked: Marney 35, Mee 56, Wallace 70, Vokes 81

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Robinson (Smith ht), Lowry, Malone (Batt 67), Trotter, Henry, Keogh (Henderson 64) , Abdu, Wood

Subs Not Used: M.Taylor, Wright, Henderson, Racon, Mkandawire

Goals: Trotter 3, Henderson 90

Booked: Trotter 32, Dunne 57, Henry 72, Lowry 79

Possession: 57% Burnley, 43% Millwall (Source: BBC Sport)

Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)