Date: 23rd November 2008 at 4:55pm
Written by:

On a cold and very frustrating afternoon for Clarets fans, Burnley could only muster a 0-0 draw against bottom club, Doncaster Rovers at Turf Moor yesterday. The result sees the Clarets drop one place to 5th, but with Reading losing at home at least we are now just 3 points off third spot on 30 points.

To be honest the Clarets never seemed to get out of first gear and their task was made even more difficult when so-called Premier League standard referee, Steve Bennett produced a second yellow card for Steve Thompson after clashing with Doncaster Rovers centre back, Matthew Mills thus reducing the Clarets to ten men with only 31 minutes of the match played.

You just sensed this was not going to be our afternoon when time after time, the Clarets were penalised by the referee with decisions always going Rovers way, most of the time it seemed unfairly.

The sending off though really was a joke and even both managers seemed to think it was harsh

Owen Coyle said of the incident:

‘I can see why our player Steve Thompson was sent off. He was late getting over to the challenge but I don’t think he actually caught the lad. But the player Matthew Mills that Thompson fouled shouldn’t have been on the pitch at the time. For me, he did the worst tackle in the game on Chris Eagles and the referee gave a free-kick.’

Rover`s gaffer, Sean O`Driscoll said about the sending off

‘I didn’t think Steve Thompson touched Matthew Mills at all for his second booking. But in the previous incident when they were both booked I thought he threw a punch”

Three minutes after the sending off and Coyle had to replace the injured Wade Elliott with Alan Mahon and the scene was set for a poor game with the rest of the match it seemed mainly spent by the Clarets defending against a rampant Doncaster Rovers buoyed by their one-man advantage.

Thankfully they can`t shoot or score for toffee and stronger teams on the day would probably have taken their chances and got a panful.

There is no doubt the sending off and numerous other poor refereeing decisions had their effect on morale and the end result but let`s be honest something was clearly not clicking for the Clarets anyway yesterday and we may even have struggled to get three points with 11 men on the pitch!

We really must stop dropping points though against the clubs struggling at the foot of the table, we had enough of that last season. Beat Chelsea, beat QPR and only draw against bottom club, Donny? Bizarre but typical Burnley!

We hardly have time to catch our breath before we are in action again on Monday night as we cross the Pennines to face Rovers near rivals, Barnsley at Oakwell for the Sky-televised match. The Clarets will be hoping to quickly get back on track with three points and keep the pressure on the other clubs fighting for a Top 6 spot.

It all started so well too yesterday with the news that both Michael Duff and Steven Caldwell had made the sixteen despite earlier injury scares. Caldwell missed the last game against QPR at Loftus Road thanks to a one-match suspension after being sent off for a second yellow in the stunning Carling Cup victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a few days earlier. He had however later in the week picked up an injury which was a cause for concern. Thankfully he was fit enough to start against Rovers and teamed up with Carlisle in the centre of defence.

Owen Coyle therefore elected to keep Duff on the bench but at least Duff seemed to have recovered from the injury he picked up on International duty for Northern Ireland in midweek. With Duff fit there was an option to play 4-1-4-1 but it looks like that formation for the moment has been dropped in favour of 4-4-2 with Alexander once more playing at right back.

There were no major surprises in the sixteen selected by Coyle and we lined up in a fairly predictable fashion as follows:

Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, McCann, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Thompson

Subs: Penny, Duff, Mahon, Akinbiyi, Paterson

Clarets fans eager to see how former Burnley midfielder, John Spicer, would fare against his old club were set for a disappointment. Although named on the Doncaster Rovers bench, he would sit glued to it all afternoon

Gordon, sorry Steve Bennett got the game underway and it was Doncaster Rovers who seemed more up for this match in the first few minutes.

Chambers running down the right with six minutes on the clock found Jason Price. Thankfully Price hit the side netting after shooting on the turn.

Matthew Mills incredibly went unpunished after a terrible foul on Chris Eagles after 10 minutes, an incident that would later fuel additional anger towards the referee during the Thompson sending-off debacle.

At least from the free kick, Blake tested Donny keeper, Neil Sullivan forcing a good save out of him, in one of the few scoring chances all afternoon that the Clarets fans would have chance to cheer about.

A minute later and Bennett had booked Thompson and Mills after a late challenge and fracas.

Jensen got to a long-range effort from Brian Stock on 15 minutes with Doncaster now on the ascendency and to be blunt looking the most likely to break the deadlock with the Clarets struggling to make an impression, especially in midfield.

31 minutes of play and we were reduced, rather unfairly, to ten men after Thompson was adjudged by Gordon Bent-tit to have fouled Mills in a late challenge that clearly wasn`t! A second yellow it was despite howls of protest ringing round three sides of the ground.

The rest of the half was a dire, scrappy affair with ref whistles galore and most of them incorrectly given Rovers way. The whistle for half-time was almost a relief and an excuse to join 30 % of the Clarets faithful that were already queuing for a hot coffee on this so far, cold, miserable afternoon.

Coyle made no substitutions at half-time but with no real strike force now in attack, elected to move Eagles up front. At least the player sent off was a striker and with Doncaster unable to hit a barn from six yards let alone a barn door, there was always hope we could skilfully craft a goal on the break.

In probably the one and only Clarets high spot of the afternoon, McCann after 51 minutes got close with a header following an Alan Mahon free kick but as the game went on, the hope of scoring on the break seemed more and more remote with nobody really to aim for even when the midfield went on a rare charge.

Akinbiyi came on for Blake after 58 minutes but for most of the game seemed to be chasing shadows again.

All the action seemed to be at the wrong end and credit where credit is due, Doncaster Rovers came with a game plan to snuff us out and they never stopped trying to get the lead even when a point would have sufficed for them.

Jensen after 60 minutes saved well after Stock shot from distance and an effort from Rovers substitute Paul Heffernan thankfully missed the barn again flying high and wide with 76 minutes played.

Two minutes later and Eagles looked like he could at long last break the deadlock after an individual run towards goal. However the angle was getting tighter and tighter and his final shot was wide of the far post.

Michael Duff came on after 79 minutes to take up the right back position releasing Alexander into the holding midfield role. Gudjonsson who had not had a good afternoon was the player to come off. By now though, nothing seemed to be working as the effect of losing a player and being down to 10-men took it`s toll.

Doncaster Rovers would have the final word in injury time but Jensen was equal to it, bringing out a double save to deny Rovers a late victory which on the day would have been a tadge unfair.

A day though that Clarets fans would want to quickly forget as they left the ground seeking the warmth of home in the quickest time possible.

Oh well, ces`t la vie! I always felt deep down it was going to be one of those games and so it proved despite my brain telling me not to be silly! The loss of two points was made even more miserable with the news that Preston had beaten Barnsley 2-1 at Deepdale to move within three points of the Clarets. Let’s hope at least Barnsley suffer for that defeat in their next game against us on Monday night and that we can quickly get back on track in front of the Sky Sports cameras!


Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott (Mahon 34), Gudjonsson (Duff 79), McCann, Eagles, Blake (Akinbiyi 58), Thompson.

Subs Not Used: Penny, Paterson.

Sent Off: Thompson (31).

Booked: Thompson, Gudjonsson, Akinbiyi, Eagles.

Doncaster: Sullivan, O’Connor, Mills, Martis, Chambers, Price (Coppinger 72), Wellens, Stock, Hird (Hayter 38), Guy (Heffernan 72), Woods.

Subs Not Used: Spicer, Taylor.

Booked: Mills, Woods.

Ref: Steve ‘Gordon’ Bennett (Kent).