It all ends with a visit from Bristol City
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Saturday, 28th April 2012
The curtain comes down today on the 2011/12 season for the Clarets with a home game against a Bristol City side relieved to be in the Championship next season.
Seasons come and seasons go and this is one where we once hovered perilously close to the bottom three and where we once flirted with the top six, but generally it has been a season of so many ups and downs that a mid-table finish is probably just about right.
|Chris McCann - We have come along slowly & surely|
And that's what it will be. We go into the last game in 12th place with the possibility of going up no more than two places, potentially moving above Derby and Leicester should we win, and going down no more than two places, with both Leeds and Watford able to pass us if we don't win.
The real bugbear has been the inability to win home games. No matter which way you look at it, seven home wins is not good enough. It's let down the away form this season and we should be grateful for those ten away wins because they have seen us as high as we are.
We've won 29 points at home and only Millwall and today's opponents Bristol City (27 points) and Doncaster and Nottingham Forest (20 points) have won less on their own grounds. The seven wins matches the record of two years ago in the Premier League and the 2007/08 season but it is as far back as the 1989/90 season when we last won less at home.
The inconsistencies were to be expected and captain Chris McCann highlighted it this week. "We have a new team here," he said. "This season we have done quite well, being our first season together. I think we have come along slowly and surely.
"There have been glimpses of what we are capable of and that we have started to gel as a team, so hopefully that first season we will be better for that, and we will come back next season and have a right go."
He added: "The home form hasn't been great and if we are going to do anything our home form has to be top priority and we have to do well. We are looking to rectify that and turn it around, starting from Saturday. We will be trying to get a win to put us out on a positive note and take that into next year."
McCann has made a return from injury this season. He played the last four games last season and incredibly has been an ever present this season, starting all but two of the Carling Cup games when he came on as a substitute.
"I didn't imagine I would play this many games at the start of the season," he admitted. "It's been difficult and stop-start for me for the past couple of years and I did find it a little bit hard to get to grips with things at the start.
"After not playing for a long time it's difficult just to flick a switch and come back in and try and play like you used to. Coming back next year I will hopefully play a full season again and probably at a consistently higher level than I have done this season."
McCann is joined by Kieran Trippier in playing every league game and that should continue today when Eddie Howe has more players to select from with Ben Mee and Jay Rodriguez both available again.
Jay has missed nine of the last ten games and Mee's been out for the six. Both are expected to be in the squad and Jay Rod will almost certainly start. Could it be his last game for the club? Manager Howe has certainly been negative recently in regard keeping hold of him.
In Mee's absence we've had Ross Wallace and Danny Lafferty at full back. Lafferty has only played in away games so far but I think the home fans might just get a first sighting of him today with Mee either on the bench or coming in for one of the central defenders.
I think we could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Danny Lafferty, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Junior Stanislas, Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Ben Mee, Marvin Bartley, Danny Ings, Joe Jackson, Cameron Howieson.
Our Opponents - Bristol City
Bristol City have had a torrid season with just two decent runs. The first came following the arrival of Derek McInnes as manager. He took over from Keith Millen in October with them bottom of the Championship and with only one win, that surprisingly at Leicester in August.
He lost his first game in charge at home to Birmingham but they then went on a run of three wins (including their 3-1 success against the Clarets) and two draws in the next five games.
It moved them out of the bottom three, even as far as seven points clear of two clubs, Coventry and Doncaster. The run had also seen them beat league leaders Southampton, something they repeated at the end of December.
By the beginning of January they looked to be well on their way to a safe position but after beating Doncaster in January they then won only one point from their next seven games and dropped right back into danger.
Just a few weeks ago, with Coventry going on a decent run, it looked as though they would be the ones to go down with Doncaster and Portsmouth, but they suddenly turned things round. Three of the last five games have been won with the other two drawn. Two draws before that sees them arrive at Burnley on a run of seven games unbeaten.
The crucial win came on Easter Monday at home to Coventry. They trailed 1-0 at half time but turned things round with Jon Stead, Yannick Bolasie and Chris Wood all finding the net in a 3-1 win.
Last week's win at home to Barnsley was in the end not needed but today they will go into a game for the first time safe in the knowledge that they will retain the place in the Championship that they won in 2007.
McInnes has hinted there could be changes for this last game and he's forced into one change with Burnley central defender Andre Amougou now having returned to Turf Moor. He could actually play for us today but in truth he'll sit it out with Eddie Howe having already confirmed the Cameroon defender's future is away from Turf Moor.
They will also be without former Reading midfielder Kalifa Cisse who has had surgery this week for a hernia. Cole Skuse was a doubt but should be fit after suffering a calf strain last week. Former Bournemouth striker Brett Pitman, who has made a habit of scoring against us, returns from suspension.
For last week's win, Bristol City's team was: Dean Gerken, Richard Foster, Liam Fontaine, Andre Amougou, Ryan McGivern, Cole Skuse, Martyn Woolford, Albert Adomah, Stephen Pearson, Jon Stead, Chris Wood. Subs: David James, Hogan Ephraim, Louis Carey, Yannick Bolasie, Neil Kilkenny.
Last Time They Were Here
Last season's home game against Bristol City was the first time Burnley had failed to score at home in 2010/11 in what was our fifth home game. It ended 0-0 meaning they were the first home points dropped and the game will probably be best remembered because Graham Alexander missed a penalty.
We went into the game having beaten Bolton and all they brought with them in the Carling Cup four days earlier, but this one never quite lived up to the excitement of the cup tie but it was never going to be.
|The rare sight of a Graham Alexander penalty miss|
Brian Laws made two changes to the team that had drawn the previous league game 0-0 at Crystal Palace. Alexander was preferred to Dean Marney whilst Jay Rodriguez, who had come on for the injured Ross Wallace at Palace, got his first league start in almost 18 months with Wallace on the bench.
The game got off to a slow start with Bristol City's sole ambition being to keep a clean sheet, but Burnley started to step things up in the latter stages of the first half.
And we should have gone in front after Chris Eagles played in Tyrone Mears. The full back was brought down and referee Mathieson, who otherwise had a nightmare of a game, pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Grezza as we prepared to celebrate the lead, but it didn't require former England goalkeeper David James to save it as the penalty went wide of the post. It was his 19th penalty for Burnley, it was the first and last he missed for us.
Even so, it really lifted the performance. Rodriguez came close, Chris Iwelumo came even closer and James then did save from Grezza. It was a free kick and James did really well to grab it from Jack Cork after failing to hold the ball first time.
In the second half we did what we were getting good at, we hit the woodwork. We hit it twice at Palace, we hit it twice in the cup win against Bolton but this time it was Bristol City's Cole Skuse who hit his own woodwork with James beaten.
Bristol City were time wasting and slowing the game down and it was still 0-0 going into stoppage time when, incredibly, we hit the woodwork again. This time Wallace, on as a sub, crossed for Wade Elliott of all players to climb above the centre half to head against the bar.
That was the last chance and we had to settle for a point which left us 8th in the table when a win would have seen us go 5th.
The teams were;
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Andre Bikey, Danny Fox, Graham Alexander (Dean Marney 62), Wade Elliott, Jack Cork, Chris Eagles, Chris Iwelumo (Steven Thompson 74), Jay Rodriguez (Ross Wallace 79). Subs not used: Lee Grant, Michael Duff, Leon Cort, Martin Paterson.
Bristol City David James, Christian Ribeiro, Louis Carey, Liam Fontaine, Jamie McAllister, Cole Skuse, Danny Rose, Marvin Elliott, Danny Haynes (Brett Pitman 55), Jon Stead, Albert Adomah. Subs not used: Dean Gerken, Damion Stewart, David Clarkson, Lee Johnson, Ivan Sproule, Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
Previous Games against Bristol City
|Last 20 Years|
|1996/97||Division 2||h||2-3||9,538||Gleghorn, Weller|
|h||4-0||18,005||Alexander(2 2pens), Elliott, Gudjonsson|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Bristol City