Clarets to face relegation strugglers
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Tuesday, 31st January 2012
Burnley travel to Nottingham Forest tonight looking for three points against a team that is very much facing a relegation battle this season.
We take our good away form to Nottingham tonight. Only West Ham and Middlesbrough have more points than us on the road and our recent run has seen us win four of the last five away games with only that late, late comeback from Leeds preventing it from being five successive wins.
|Michael Duff will face old manager Steve Cotterill|
Tonight we face a team that's struggling at the wrong end of the table but that's not often made much difference when we've travelled to the City Ground. It's not a ground where we've had much success over the years with only four post war wins and only one since 1964.
That solitary win was, in my view, a crucial one in our promotion season of 2008/09. We'd picked up only two points from the first four games and travelled to Forest without the suspended Chris Eagles.
New signing Steven Thompson made his debut; Graham Alexander scored twice including his first Burnley penalty; we won 2-1 and set ourselves up finally for what proved to be our best season in years.
We need that sort of performance tonight if we are going to start putting pressure on the teams above us. Amazingly, despite the win and draw in the last two games, we are down in 12th place in the league again and, to make things a little bit worse, Reading's win against Bristol City on Saturday has seen us fall five points behind the play off places.
There's no doubt at all that we will need to improve our home form if we are to push towards that top six but equally we need to maintain the away form. Seven wins at this stage is excellent. It's ten years since we reached double figures in wins on the road and the club record is now just four wins away from being equalled.
Another win tonight would take us closer to that record and hopefully, and more importantly, closer to that top six.
One Burnley player is really looking forward to the game. That's Michael Duff who will be up against his former manager. Ahead of the game he said of him: "Steve has been probably been the major influence on my career, other than my mum and dad. He was the guy who brought me into the Football League with Cheltenham and gave me the opportunity here. He's had a huge part to play in my career and I think I have done all right for him along the way as well.
"I have got a lot of respect for the bloke. I think he is a good manager and I'm sure he will turn it round at Forest. When he came to Burnley I think I was only about the seventh or eighth player I had at the club and then three or four years later I think nine of the starting 11 at Wembley were his signings. He definitely left this club in a lot healthier state when he left it. I look forward to seeing him but hopefully shaking his hand when we've got three points on the bus."
Manager Eddie Howe should have the same squad to select from as he had for the home draw with Derby and I don't envisage much, if any changes, although potentially Marvin Bartley could be preferred to Keith Treacy.
I expect us to line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Keith Treacy, Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez. Subs: Brian Jensen, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley, Zavon Hines, Josh McQuoid.
Our Opponents - Nottingham Forest
What's happened at Forest? Last May they reached the play offs under Little Billy Davies, going out against Swansea in the semi-finals.
Another promotion charge was expected even though Davies was dismissed and replaced by Umbrella Man Steve McClaren. We saw evidence of a McClaren team at the Turf earlier in the season. They were inept and beaten 5-1 and the former England manager made a quick exit just days later.
In came the familiar figure of Steve Cotterill from Portsmouth. He got the traditional new manager honeymoon period with a few results but then came the big downturn.
Having beaten Ipswich 3-2 in mid-November they then proceeded to fail to score a solitary goal in any of their next seven games. Then came Ipswich again and another three but since they've scored just once in three league games and two cup ties.
After one of the recent games, a 4-0 hammering at Leicester in the FA Cup, there was rumour of problems in the dressing room while the Forest fans chanted for the return of Little Billy.
What's happened is that Cotterill remains in charge and he's this week sold Wes Morgan to Leicester for a reported £1 million with the club no longer as financially secure as they were with the departure of former chairman Nigel Doughty.
Cotterill then will have no Morgan tonight. He's also without Chris Cohen and Brendan Moloney, both injured, and the suspended Luke Chambers.
To add to that, Greg Cunningham, the left back who was so close to joining Burnley in November, remains a doubt with a hamstring injury but is expected to pass his fitness test.
Last time out, Forest were beaten 2-1 at West Ham. Their team was: Lee Camp, Chris Gunter, Wes Morgan, Joel Lynch, Greg Cunningham, Garath McCleary, Guy Moussi, Jonathan Greening, Lewis McGugan, Marlon Harewood, Marcus Tudgay. Subs: Karl Darlow, Andy Reid, Dexter Blackstock, Paul Anderson, Ishmael Miller.
Last Time We Were There
Burnley arrived at the City Ground last season during a poor run of results. We'd lost the previous three games and had won only one point from the last five games.
|Marvin Bartley was sent off|
We made three team changes from the side hammered 4-0 at Leicester just three days earlier. Danny Fox had missed the Leicester game because of a suspension and came back for Brian Easton.
Strikers Chris Iwelumo and Jay Rodriguez were out and replaced by Jack Cork and Marvin Bartley. Jay had a hip injury and it remains, to date, the only game he's missed since Eddie Howe became manager.
Forest, too, had been on a disappointing run but it was their night as two goals from substitute David McGoldrick gave them a 2-0 win, but that hardly told the story.
We'd started brightly and looked the more likely. That was until referee Jon Moss stepped in and sent off Marvin Bartley. He didn't look as though he was going to take any action at all, and it didn't deserve any action, until the shocking overreaction from the Forest players and manager who was up and down the touchline waving an imaginary card.
Bartley was sent off but we continued to play well enough up to half time. However, Forest did get on top in the second half but weren't creating too much. That was until those two McGoldrick goals gave them the points.
We went on to win our next three games following this much improved performance, but the poor run had damaged our play off hopes and we never quite made it back into the top six.
The teams were;
Nottingham Forest: Lee Camp, Brendan Moloney (Chris Gunter 82), Wes Morgan, Luke Chambers, Paul Konchesky, Lewis McGugan, Paul McKenna, Guy Moussi (Radoslaw Majewski 71), Garath McCleary, Marcus Tudgay (David McGoldrick 71), Robert Earnshaw. Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Julian Bennett, Kris Boyd, Dele Adebola.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Michael Duff, Andre Bikey (Steven Thompson 86), Danny Fox, Dean Marney, Marvin Bartley, Jack Cork, Wade Elliott (Chris Iwelumo 80), Chris Eagles (Ross Wallace 63), Nathan Delfouneso. Subs not used: Lee Grant, Shane Duffy, Clarke Carlisle, Graham Alexander.
Previous Games against Nottingham Forest
|Last 20 Years|
|h||5-0||13,055||Blake, Elliott, Carlisle, Rodriguez, Gudjonsson|
|2011/12||Championship||h||5-1||13,265||Rodriguez(2), McCann, Wallace, Austin|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Nottingham Forest