Date: 17th January 2009 at 6:45pm
Written by:

The Clarets continue their bad run of form in the League going down 2-1 to local rivals, Preston at Deepdale in today’s early Saturday Sky Sports televised match.

We have now gone four league matches without even a point. The three preceding defeats against Barnsley, Doncaster Rovers and Swansea were all simply plain awful with the team looking clueless and jaded but the defeat at Preston tells a different story!

We looked by far the better team and twice against the run of play and at critical moments in the game, Preston were awarded controversial penalties. Their second penalty which gave them a 2-1 lead was very harsh indeed after it was alleged that Caldwell handled the ball in the area. Quite clearly and in front of the cameras, it was an accidental handball with the ball hitting his already outstretched arm.

The defeat is best summed up by Owen Coyle`s comments after the game:

‘I thought my players were magnificent. The first penalty was a soft one but the second one was beyond belief. All credit to Preston but they had two major decisions go their way. I feel for our players and our supporters – we’ve been badly short-changed.’

Preston looked the liveliest in the early stages of the first half with the Clarets gradually coming into the game after the Lilywhites look frustrated at not being able to get the breakthrough. By the end of the first half, it was the Clarets enjoying most of the possession and Owen Coyle would have been the happier of the two managers at half-time with the score at 0-0.

Calum Davidson though scored a penalty seven minutes into the second half just as the Clarets looked the most likely to score.

This first penalty was given after Jensen was alleged to have brought down Stephen Elliott. It didn`t look a malicious foul if indeed it was, but Jensen realised he had made a mistake diving at the player and couldn`t stop his momentum. Elliott would probably not have got to the ball either and may well have dived after realising that but ces`t la vie!

All credit to the Clarets though they soaked up some initial pressure as Preston sought to extend their lead and then came storming back looking for the equaliser.

Coyle also freshened up the pack replacing Gudjonsson with Blake on 66 minutes and then Rodriguez for Thompson 10 minutes later. Burnley were then awarded a free-kick and Blake curled in a stunning 30-yard free-kick to equalise in the 77th minute.

The Clarets were now looking for the winner and time and time again put the Lilywhites under pressure but with five minutes to go and totally against the run of play again another even more awful penalty decision scuppered our chances.

This defeat with the 3pm kick-off games still to play ensured it was Preston who would now be in 4th place with the Clarets remaining in 7th now 4 points behind them .

Somehow we have quickly got to stop the rot in the League starting with a victory at Watford a week on Tuesday if we are to keep our promotion hopes alive. There is however still the little matter of the Carling Cup Semi-final 2nd leg at Turf Moor against Spurs on Wednesday night. The result of that game could well dictate how we play on Saturday away to WBA in the FA Cup and whether the Clarets will be on a high or low by the time they play Watford but we shall have to see . Not a good 2009 so far is it?

Clarets fans had been buoyed up for the start of the Preston game too with the good news that both Paterson and McCann had made the starting eleven after they had picked up knocks in the previous game against QPR in the FA Cup 3rd round replay. Michael Duff also returned after an automatic one match suspension following his sending off against Swansea thus allowing Coyle to use Alexander in the holding midfield role. Robbie Blake found himself on the bench though with Thompson preferred up front partnering Paterson.

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Duff, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, Gudjonsson, McCann, Thompson,, Paterson.

Subs: Penny, Mahon, MacDonald, Blake, Rodriguez

Calum Davidson had recovered from his back injury to start for Preston and former Claret, Richard Chaplow was also in their starting eleven in midfield.

Hertfordshire referee, Paul Taylor got the match underway with Preston looking the most dangerous in the early stages. Elliott broke free from Caldwell chasing after a ball over the top. His first touch though let him down and Jensen was able to come out and snuff out the danger with the referee waving away Preston penalty appeals.

Moments later, the Clarets had their first chance to score after Paterson picked up a header from Carlisle in the danger area following an Alexander free kick. Lonergan though got his fingertips to the shot before Gudjonsson put his instinctive attempt wide by a few inches.

Jensen then stood tall to collect a ball headed directly at him by Jon Parkin following a cross by the busy Elliott on 15 minutes.

Chris McCann missed what looked like a sitter from just two yards out. Carlisle and Caldwell from an Eagles corner had combined well with the ball dropping to McCann`s feet only for the Irish midfielder to somehow shoot over the bar.

Just past the half-hour mark, Alexander had a half-chance from a half-cleared corner but his volleyed shot from outside the area flew over the bar.

Carlisle was alert after 38 minutes when a Preston corner found Mawene rushing in at the far post He cleared the danger being ideally placed at the near post.

An amazing shot by Eagles though soon after nearly had the Clarets cheering with delight. Alexander combined with Duff finding Eagles out wide almost on the right touchline. He then let rip with a volley that dipped towards the target. Lonergan running back though somehow managed to clear the ball to safety from under the crossbar. The startled commentators on Sky Sports had to watch the replay to convince themselves this was an attempt on goal and not a wayward passing cross! They were convinced and what a stunning goal it would have been, probably goal of the season!

Burnley were then on top for the rest of the half and indeed took the honours based on first-half performance having it seemed most of the possession and the better chances to break the deadlock.

There were no changes by either side for the start of the second half and it was the Clarets who again looked the brighter of the two teams continuing as they had ended the first half very much on top.

Gudjonsson got in a through ball almost immediately to find McCann who shot only to see Lonergan forced to turn the ball around the post for a corner.

A long punt up field by Jensen allowed Thompson to flick the ball neatly to Paterson but his shot just didn`t have enough welly behind it to beat Lonergan.

Against the run of play and in typical controversial fashion, Preston were then awarded a penalty on 52 minutes.

It looked bad on the telly after Jensen appeared to challenge Elliott bringing him down but it looked a soft decision in the replay and arguably Elliott may well have dived realising he wasn`t going to get the ball. It didn`t matter, the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot despite protests galore from the Clarets and Calum Davidson duly scored to put the Lilywhites 1-0 up.

Now Preston had their tails up and the Clarets had to soak up a lot of pressure for a time as the Lilywhites looked to double their lead.

Ross Wallace should have done better four minutes following Preston`s first goal after going round two defenders to shoot but thankfully he missed the target with only Jensen to beat. Chaplow too could only hit a shot directly at Jensen from eight yards out.

Blake then replaced Gudjonsson with 15 minutes remaining before young Jay Rodriguez came on for Thompson ten minutes later. Jay had only jut come on the pitch when the Clarets were awarded a free-kick

Dusting himself down, Blake stood poised to try a special from 30 yards out and so it proved with his curled shot hitting the target off the inside post to make it 1-1.

The Clarets now looked for the winner but it was Preston again who would take the lead against the run of play when Caldwell was adjudged to handle in the area.

Mellor scored from the spot after Preston`s second controversial penalty decision of the day on 85 minutes. He nearly didn`t either but somehow the ball seemed to squirm under Jensen`s body.

Still the Clarets wouldn`t give up and after 85 minutes, Lonergan somehow got to a shot from Paterson as Burnley tried desperately to get something from this cruel match.

It wasn`t to be and Preston got the bragging rights again on this ground, a place where we haven`t won now since 2001.

With all the Saturday match results now in, Burnley are still thankfully in 7th place but we are now two points behind Cardiff in 6th who have a game in hand! Hell, why do we always make life difficult for ourselves at this time of the year? Boy do we need something to cheer us up! 3-0 against Spurs and a place at Wembley come Wednesday night would help!

Come on You Clarets!!


Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Mawene, St. Ledger, Davidson, Sedgwick, McKenna, Chaplow (Nicholson 81), Wallace, Elliott (Mellor 84), Parkin.

Subs Not Used: Brown, Nolan, Chris Neal.

Booked: McKenna, Wallace, Sedgwick.

Goals: Davidson 53 pen, Mellor 85 pen.

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, Gudjonsson (Blake 66), McCann, Thompson (Rodriguez 76), Paterson.

Subs Not Used: Penny, Mahon, MacDonald.

Goals: Blake 77.

Ref: Paul Taylor (Hertfordshire).