Date: 28th January 2009 at 8:42am
Written by:

The Clarets traditional slump about this time every year seams to be no different this season. Last night at Vicarage Road the Clarets went down to struggling side Watford, 3-0 after dominating much of the game. Some woeful defending severely criticised by Owen Coyle after the game was the main reason for this heavy defeat. The Clarets fell to a sucker punch after just two minutes when Jobi McAnuff put the Hornets ahead following a slip by McCann on a pretty poor pitch. Two late soft goals by Priskin on 78 and 90 minutes were enough to ensure that Watford inflicted the fifth league defeat on the trot for the Clarets. The score line appears to have flattered Watford considering we had ten corners during the game compared to none for the Hornets but it`s no use having most of the possession, if basic defensive errors lead to you conceding three goals!

This season I would say in general we are showing far better quality all round, compared to previous seasons when we typically fired on four cylinders in the first half of the season and dropped to three in the second half. We now seem to have been in high gear for most of the season until December but have now dropped a couple of gears based on recent results in the League.

How else can you explain beating Premier League opposition Fulham, Chelsea, Arsenal and in one leg, Tottenham in the Carling Cup only to lose to the likes of Barnsley, Doncaster Rovers and now Watford in the Championship?

The defeat means we now drop to 9th, still thankfully within spitting distance of the play-off places mainly due to other teams in the chasing pack also losing last night, most notably Preston 4-1 to Swansea. We are now 2 points behind Cardiff in 6th place, but they do have two games in hand and still four points behind 5th placed Preston.

It is now crucial we get three points at home this Saturday against bottom club Charlton at Turf Moor; otherwise we could be heading for yet another mid-table finish. The run of five straight defeats now in the league is becoming a very worrying trend and one we have to nip in the bud soon before confidence saps away and our season with it!

You might be expected to think our slump is related to tiredness after so many games recently coupled with a small squad but that certainly wasn`t the case last night. The problems were in defence or rather lack of it and with Coyle unable to change things round in the back four due to injuries to Duff (hamstring) and Jordan (medial ligament), there was nothing that could be done about it!

Coyle was forced to play the back four of Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell and Kalvenes and so it was not possible to consider Alexander in the holding midfield role. This situation just brings home to you our problems in yet another season where a small squad begins to suffer. Owen Coyle though, in this World Recession has little money (if any) to do anything about it and is struggling it seems to even bring in loans.

If our season once again goes a mammary or two up, the reason once more will be that we couldn`t do enough in the January window to bolster our chances of success.

The Clarets started this game as previously mentioned without the services of Duff and Jordan but lined up in midfield and attack as expected, with Robbie Blake getting the nod over Thompson who once more was on the bench. The good news also is that Kevin McDonald is fully recovered from his niggling injury and he too was again named on the bench

We therefore lined up as follows:

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

Subs: Penny, Mahon, McDonald, Rodriguez, Thompson

Isle of Wight referee James Linington, given his first chance to officiate at a Championship game, got the match underway.

The back four were only just finding their defeat when the Clarets found themselves 1-0 behind in the first minute. The poor surface at Vicarage Road instantly gave the Hornets an advantage after Chris McCann slipped on it. Rasiak pounced in acres of space that he should not have been given and from just inside the Burnley half found Hoskins. McAnuff needed two attempts to score after Hoskins got in a first-time cross but score he did to rock the Clarets with the game just two minutes old,

The Hornets keeper, Loach was not having a good start to this match with the Clarets now putting him under pressure. He dropped a tame cross from Eagles in the 10th minute but the defence came to the rescue to deny Paterson at the near post.

With Watford looking shaky, a Blake corner was deflected but Carlisle just failed to connect. By now Burnley were having the Lion`s share of possession but couldn`t make it count. Paterson let rip with a drive after 23 minutes with Loach having to parry the ball away and then Eagles shot over the bar following some nice approach work in the centre of midfield.

Watford had the odd break and Caldwell came to the rescue blocking a McAnuff shot after 30 minutes but by now the Clarets were dominating play. Frustratingly for Burnley though they couldn`t make the pressure count and the score remained at 1-0 to the Hornets at half-time.

The same eleven for both sides came out for the start of the second half and the Clarets continued as they had left off.

After 50 minutes of play, Eagles got in a deep cross and Blake headed towards goal only for Loach to save at the near post

Blake was replaced by Thompson after 61 minutes with Chris Eagles now bombing down the left. Thompson was immediately into action finding Eagles down the left who crossed to the far post finding Paterson. With defenders around him, Paterson though could only shoot into the side netting from close range.

With twelve minutes to go though, Watford increased their lead against the run of play. This time Carlisle was at fault for not clearing the ball well enough after a Hornets long ball upfield. Former Claret, Jon Harley pounced and found Priskin who scored from 12 yards.

The Clarets were now chasing the game, Loach saved from Alexander and a shot from Elliott was wide and you just sensed Watford would punish us once more and in the final minute they did with Priskin getting the second of his brace following another defensive blunder. Racing down the left in acres of room again, Priskin cut inside to score Watford`s third goal with the last kick of the match

Coyle was not a happy bunny after the match, giving the defence in particular some deserved stick:

“The players know my feelings. If they are not going to defend properly, it might have to be a kid. It might have to be something as drastic as that, but I am not going to stand by and watch that defending week in and week out, said Coyle

‘I could probably go in myself at 42 and defend better than that. It’s not on!’


Watford: Loach, Hoyte (Lee Williamson 71), Mariappa, Mike Williamson, Doyley, Cork, McAnuff, Smith, Jenkins, Rasiak (Harley 60), Hoskins (Priskin 76).

Subs Not Used: Lee, DeMerit.

Booked: Hoyte.

Goals: McAnuff 2, Priskin 78, 90.

Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Gudjonsson (McDonald 79), Elliott, McCann, Eagles, Paterson (Rodriguez 79), Blake (Thompson 61).

Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon.

Booked: Kalvenes.

Ref: James Linington