Home at last
It seems forever ago since the 0-0 draw when Danny Coyne was injured, Gifton missed a good chance and some rather small gentleman on the touchline was upsetting the home supporters in the Bob Lord Stand. But we're back, via Barnsley, Hull, Reading twice and Southampton, and a first chance for the home supporters to see our two most recent signings Mike Pollitt and Eric Djemba-Djemba, both of whom are likely to start.
Our opponents Norwich City have a new manager since we last played them. That was at the beginning of our best month this season October, and we hadn't gone more than a couple of miles up the road from Carrow Road when we learned that our 4-1 win had proved to be the final nail in Nigel Worthington's coffin, he was dismissed within minutes of the final whistle.
Since then they've appointed former player Peter Grant. It is his first managerial role and prior to taking the job he'd been working as assistant manager alongside Alan Pardew at West Ham.
He got off to a good start and Norwich lost just once in his first seven games in charge, albeit by a 5-0 scoreline at Stoke, but in contrast they come to the Turf having won just once in their last eight league games although they did have an easy 4-1 FA Cup win at Tamworth.
The squad hasn't changed too much since he took over. His first signing was Portsmouth goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown on loan, but that was for just a month during October and November.
His next signing was a player familiar to Burnley fans, our former loan player Luke Chadwick. Again it was a loan but with a view to a permanent deal and that move was made permanent in January for a £200,000 fee. Chadwick scored on his debut in the East Anglian derby at Ipswich but it wasn't the best of days. It gave Norwich a 1-0 lead but they went on to lose the game 3-1, Chadwick was stretchered off and he hasn't played since.
Norwich tried to sign Luton's Rowan Vine a couple of weeks ago but they were quoted £750,000 by the Bedfordshire club (he's subsequently moved to Birmingham for much more) which was too much but on Thursday last week he spent £325,000 on RK Sunderland striker Chris Brown who had been in the starting line up for the Wearside club as recently as New Year's Day.
There's been one further loan signing this week, Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall and he's straight into the squad for the game against us.
Norwich come into this game after losing at home last week against Plymouth. They led 1-0 at half time courtesy of a stoppage time free kick from Youssef Safri but the visitors scored three times in the second half to take all three points.
to see all Norwich's results this season.
The Clarets will be hoping for a winning return to Turf Moor, it is now almost eight weeks since we last won, against Leeds at the end of November.
Peter Grant had to rule out leading scorer Robert Earnshaw before last week's home game against Plymouth with a groin injury and any hopes he had of having him available this week were dashed when he had surgery a couple of days ago that will probably keep him out until the end of the season.
Last week, in his absence, Paul McVeigh came in for a rare start and partnered veteran Dion Dublin up front. New signing Chris Brown had to settle for a place on the bench, along with young striker Chris Martin.
Luke Chadwick, fit again from his gashed knee but is still ruled out as he's suffering from bruising and central defender Jason Shackell is rated doubtful after missing training this week with an ankle injury.
One poser for Grant is who to play in goal, regular stopper Paul Gallacher or the new boy David Marshall, and it is Marshall who is expected to get the nod. Up front Brown is expected to get his first start alongside Dublin, that is if Dublin is not required to fill in at the back for Shackell should he miss out.
Norwich could line up: David Marshall, Jurgen Colin, Dion Dublin, Gary Doherty, Adam Drury, Lee Croft, Dickson Etuhu, Youssef Safri, Darren Huckerby, Paul McVeigh, Chris Brown. Subs: Paul Gallacher, Carl Robinson, Andy Hughes, Peter Thorne, Chris Martin.
to see the full Norwich squad.
Burnley fans are almost certain to see home debuts for goalkeeper Mike Pollitt and midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba who both made their debuts at Southampton last week, and there'll also be that first home game for Ade Akinbiyi some nineteen days after he joined the Clarets for a second time.
All three are sure to start in a Burnley side that will show little, if any change from the one that won a point from the game at St Mary's. There have been no additions to the squad and we still have both Andy Gray and Danny Coyne out injured.
Alan Mahon is a doubt with the groin strain that ruled him out at the eleventh hour last Saturday and there might be no place for goalkeeper Brian Jensen following speculation that he had asked for a move after being left out last week.
If there are any changes then they would involve Steve Jones and Gifton Noel-Williams. I think there's a good chance of Jones returning on the left hand side of midfield. He was left out last week with manager Steve Cotterill suggesting he needed a rest but he could be preferred to Chris McCann.
Up front Ade will start and earlier in the week I would have expected Kyle Lafferty to be alongside him. It's been something of a difficult week for Kyle, with the Celtic bid and the interview with the freelance journalist, and Cotterill has admitted that he's been a bit down.
Much will depend on whether it is thought he's ready for playing and after some doubts I think he will retain his place.
I expect our side could be: Mike Pollitt, Wayne Thomas, Michael Duff, John McGreal, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott, Eric Djemba-Djemba, James O'Connor, Steve Jones, Ade Akinbiyi, Kyle Lafferty. Subs from: Stephen Foster, Garreth O'Connor, John Spicer, Chris McCann, Graham Branch, Gifton Noel-Williams.
I think we'd given up hope of winning a game, even of scoring a goal, when we played Norwich at home last season on a Friday night in front of the Sky cameras. We'd just lost our previous six games and failed to score in the last five, we hadn't scored a goal since Michael Ricketts had given us the lead in the first of those six defeats at Ipswich.
Just as we do this season, we fielded two players making their home debuts for the Clarets, Phil Bardsley and Andy Gray. Bardsley had come from Manchester United on loan whilst Gray's move from Sunderland was expected to be made permanent in the summer.
Norwich were still hopeful of making the play offs and Burnley's poor form look set to continue when the visitors simply tore into us right from the kick off. Brian Jensen made two saves, they hit the bar and somehow missed target twice when it looked easier to score.
With just over quarter of an hour gone it was difficult to believe we were still in the game, Norwich should have had it won, but we were level. Then Jon Harley, Wade Elliott and Frank Sinclair combined down the left hand side for Harley to set Graham Branch free down the left. His cross was behind Andy Gray but he turned on it superbly and beat Robert Green with a shot into the bottom corner to the keeper's right.
They say goals change games and this one definitely did, and at no time did Norwich ever look as though they might get back into it with an equaliser. We got ourselves well on top with James O'Connor and in particular Chris McCann in inspired form in the midfield and shortly after half time we doubled the lead with a Graham Branch header following a superbly flighted ball in from Bardsley.
For the rest of the game it was just a matter of whether we would get more but in the end we had to settle for a 2-0 win and finally our first points in weeks.
The teams were;
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Phil Bardsley, Michael Duff, Frank Sinclair, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott (John Spicer 76), James O'Connor, Chris McCann, Graham Branch (Kyle Lafferty 88), Michael Ricketts (Alan Mahon 63), Andy Gray. Subs not used: Danny Karbassiyoon, Garreth O'Connor.
Robert Green, Craig Fleming, Jason Shackell, Gary Doherty, Adam Drury (Robert Earnshaw 36), Jonatan Johansson (Ian Henderson 68), Andy Hughes, Simon Charlton (Youssef Safri 61), Carl Robinson, Darren Huckerby, Leon McKenzie. Subs not used: Paul Gallacher, Dickson Etuhu.
Previous 20 Seasons
Ball Taylor Moore
Wood May Blake
J O'Connor Gray(2) Mahon
Click HERE to see more results against Norwich since we first met in 1934 when the Clarets won 3-2 in Norwich.