Date: 5th March 2008 at 9:50pm
Written by:

By Martyn Robinson

TUESDAY nights. Why do they seem to be such an awful night for football?

Dull atmospheres, dull conditions which leave you sat shivering in your seats and dull football on display, that is enough to put you off in it’s own right. But to add to it, they are usually followed up with an awful refereeing display.

Am I being harsh? Four red cards in seven minutes. Sounds like poor refereeing on paper, but infact it isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds. Premiership referee Mike Riley was the man in the middle at the KC Stadium on Tuesday evening, handing straight red cards to Hull’s Jay-Jay Okocha and Caleb Folan along with Burnley skipper Steven Caldwell and midfielder Joey Gudjonsson, who were both dismissed for two bookable offences.

The Clarets made just one change to the starting line-up that drew 2-2 with Championship promotion chasers Watford at Turf Moor on Saturday, and that was Jon Harley, who dropped out of the sixteen to be replaced by David Unsworth. Rumours are fast gathering pace that former Chelsea, Sheffield United and Fulham man has turned down a new deal in East Lancashire and opting on a move away, but that wasn’t the reasoning in his absence, Harley was attending the birth of his baby boy who was born just over an hour before kick off.

The surprise inclusion in the Burnley eleven, was that of Ade Akinbiyi, who many had expected to be settling for a spot on the bench after his hattrick of close range misses, including an open net effort which the big man dragged wide. But the Nigerian forward kept his place ahead of two goal hero Robbie Blake, who came from the bench last time to earn the Clarets a point. But the birthday boy Blake found himself on the bench once again.

Phil Brown’s Hull started the stronger of the two sides, getting straight into first gear from the off, with Okocha firing just wide of a shakey Brian Jensen’s net. The momentum soon changed as Burnley finally started to get their football flowing, although it didn’t last long and was seemingly a rare sight.

Wade Elliott, who is impressing for the Clarets at the moment robbed last man Andy Dawson on the right wing only to see his effort go inches over Boaz Myhill’s crossbar, with Akinbiyi unmarked at the back post. It was almost like Elliott remembered the Akinbiyi calamity against Watford and decided to go by himself.

The early signs didn’t look good for Burnley, who are still hovering aroung the Play-Off zone, as Hull took real control of the game infront of 15,000 plus fans at the KC.

Caldwell pulled down Folan, but Riley let play continue with the Clarets backline stood watching and listening for the whistle for the foul, but it didn’t come and on loan Manchester United striker Fraizer Campbell was sent clear, but he put the ball wide from six yards out, leaving Burnley releaved.

Brian Jensen look away now. The breakthrough finally came on fourteen minutes, as Jensen’s mistake gifted Campbell with a goal. Campbell’s shot bobbled to the back of the net, going through Jensen like he wasn’t there. The mistake a second in consecutive away games for Jensen, whos days in the line-up must now be limited with Gabor Kiraly waiting anxiously in the wings.

Campbell was proving to be a real menace on the Clarets backline and almost doubled his sides’ lead, as former Bolton midfielder Okocha picked the youngster out only to see the strike once again go past Jensen’s post.

Burnley’s first real chance came with 25 minutes on the clock as Chris McCann delightfully played in Andy Cole after a fantastic one-two move with Akinbiyi and Cole managed to pick out James O’Connor from the right, but the Irishman could only side foot wide.

And it proved to be a costly miss as Richard Garcia doubled the scoreline just three minutes later leaving Jensen with no chance. Clarke Carlisle miss timed his challenge leaving Garcia with acres of space and the former Colchester man needed no invitation to pull the trigger from 35-yards as Jensen was once again left red faced.

McCann was soon substituted in what is thought to be a switch due to injury, although that hasn’t yet been confirmed, but either way on came Icelandic International Joey Gudjonsson.

The change made no difference as once again the Clarets were lucky not to be even further behind, this time Jensen was quick off his line to deny Campbell, but Half Time was a welcomed sight for Burnley and for Owen Coyle who couldn’t wait to get his points over to his men.

Half Time: Hull City 2-0 Burnley.

The opening proceedings of the second period looked promising as loan starlet Cole showed his class as he brought the ball down fantastically before spraying the ball to Elliott who layed a great ball into the area, but Northern Irish striker Kyle Lafferty somehow missed from four yards out, before O’Connor eventually fired the rebound over when a goal seemed certain.

Robbie Blake was finally introduced for Lafferty just ten minutes into the second half, a sight which was probably the best of the night so far.

But the real sight of the second half was just around the corner. Referee Mike Riley clearly wanted to give us journalists something to write about from a reletively uneventful second half, as he dismissed FOUR players in the space of six minutes, leaving Sky Sports News with a confusing period on their score show, I’m sure.

Folan was firstly shown a straight red card for Hull following an off the ball clash with Burnley Captain Steven Caldwell, an incident which Caldwell was shown a yellow card in. But the drama didn’t stop there.

Within minutes of the yellow, Caldwell recieved a second for a shirt pull on the half way line, and off went Steven, who would soon be joined by team mate Gudjonsson.

But before that Gudjonsson was on the floor clutching his face, after being punched in the face by Jay-Jay Okocha and off went the Nigerian as Riley completely lost his grip on the game at the KC Stadium.

And it wasn’t over yet, Joey was soon sent packing by Riley, but why was he sent off? An elbow to the face? Maybe a punch? No. He raised his arm and asked for a penalty, so off he went as the game started to look like two teams of mates from the pub playing in a 9-a-side match on the local astroturf, leaving both Hull and Burnley supporters united in chants against the referee.

In the mist of the red card madness, Andrew Cole saw his clearly expert header unluckily cannon off the crossbar with just fifteen minutes remaining on the watch in Humberside.

The match against Stoke is now a vital one, if the Clarets are going to sneak a Play-Off birth. And it has to be done without skipper Caldwell, who is likely to be replaced by Stanislav Varga, who is now back in contention following injury, but was an unused substitute.

After the game, manager Owen Coyle clearly wasn’t happy with his sides’ first half display, he said: ‘I felt that we were very poor in the first period. The first goal was soft and Hull kept coming – though the second was a wonder strike. There was a marked improvement in the second half, but Hull were terrific in the first part of the game.

‘We were poor, and tonight was an opportunity that we’ve missed.’

Robbo’s Man of the Match: Robbie Blake.

HULL CITY: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Dawson, Ashbee, Jay-Jay Okocha, Pederson (Walton 90), Garcia (Marney 81), Campbell (France 79).
Subs not used: Tyler, Clement.

BURNLEY: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Unsworth, Elliott, J. O’Connor (Randall 71), McCann (Gudjonsson 33), Lafferty (Blake 54), Akinbiyi, Cole.
Subs not used: Kiraly, Varga.

Referee: Mike Riley (Leeds).

Attendance: 15,838.