Relegation threatened Sky Blues at the Turf
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Saturday, 14th April 2012
It's Burnley's penultimate home game of the season and our visitors today are relegation threatened Coventry City.
We are going into this game on the back of two successive wins and three victories in the last four games which started with that astonishing 5-1 win at Portsmouth.
|Ross Wallace is set to play left back again|
It's probably no surprise that the big win at Fratton Park brought a change of fortune; it's been one of those seasons. On the way to Ipswich recently a regular away fan said it had been a season where we've seemed to be either in the middle of a good run or the middle of a crisis.
It's a fair summary. We've had runs of wins and runs of defeats; either side of Christmas we lost just twice in twelve and followed that up with only two wins in twelve. It's such a sharp contrast to the first half of last season when we couldn't win back to back games but neither did we lose back to back games.
There's no doubt this season has been a remarkably successful one on the road. Yes, we've lost ten away games and that's the most at this level for five years, but there again we've won ten and that's the most for ten years.
Unfortunately the home form has been disappointing. There have been times when we seemed to be getting it right but a defeat was never too far round the corner unfortunately. Now we have a real chance to finish the home season on a high. We won the last game against a nasty, horrible Brighton side and are left with games against Bristol City (21st) and today's opponents Coventry (22nd).
Winning these two would guarantee us 65 points and that, even without anything further on the road, would be only three points less than last season.
With all the injuries recently it has been trying to find enough players and then fitting them into positions. When Ben Mee was forced off at Portsmouth we had a dilemma. Brian Easton is no longer considered for first team action and most recent signing Danny Lafferty was out injured.
Ross Wallace took up the left back spot and explained: "The manager pulled me and Chris McCann over at Portsmouth and said one of you needs to go there and I decided to go for it.
"I've played there before and I don't think Chris was too keen on playing left back. Ben will be out for a couple of weeks and I don't think there's anyone else who can fill in there at the moment so it's needs must, but I don't want this left-back thing to stick. It's all right doing it for a couple of weeks but I want to get back up there."
Despite the defeat to Birmingham, Wallace had an assist with our goal but admitted: "Assist tables are not really something I look at, but I should be up there near the top of the list. I like to get crosses into the box so I should be setting up goals. I've done enough this season but you always want to do more."
Like Howe, he realises it is going to be tough to get into the top six now but added: "It's dependent on people dropping points and we've got to make sure that we get points. We went on a good run a few months back and if we can put that kind of run together then who knows.
"We'll see what happens, but I think it's a bit far-fetched at the moment. If we win on Saturday we have a massive game against Leicester and if we can get maximum points from the next two games we will see what sort of chance we've got come the end of the season."
Wallace is likely to be at left back again although Lafferty did come through a reserve game on Wednesday and could well be on the bench again as he was at Doncaster.
Also on that bench could be Joe Jackson who earlier this week was scoring for Barrow against Southport in the Blue Square Premier League. Joe has been recalled by the Clarets and could make the sixteen for the first time in a league game.
Jay Rodriguez, Martin Paterson and Ben Mee all remain out with Jay the only one who looks to have much chance of getting back this season, and even then it is not that likely.
Wes Fletcher has been on the bench recently but even he's been out, missing the trip to Doncaster with illness and he's not likely to feature today.
The good news is that Marvin Bartley could well be fit after coming off half an hour into the Brighton game and he could be on the bench with the starting eleven expected to be unchanged from Monday.
We could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ross Wallace, Josh McQuoid, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Junior Stanislas, Charlie Austin, Danny Ings. Subs from: Brian Easton, Danny Lafferty, Marvin Bartley, Steven Hewitt, Cameron Howieson, Shay McCartan, Joe Jackson.
Our Opponents - Coventry City
Coventry looked to be pulling away from the bottom three with successive wins against Portsmouth and Hull. Last Saturday they looked set for another win against Peterborough, but the Posh got a draw and then the Sky Blues followed that up by losing a one goal lead to relegation rivals Bristol City and dropping back into the bottom three.
Much of the interest in the Coventry team today will centre on their loan player Oliver Norwood from Manchester United. Norwood has played against the Clarets previously, in the Barclays (I wonder if I get paid for mentioning the sponsor) Premier Reserve League for Manchester United but this is the first time the self confessed Claret will play against us at first team level.
He told the Burnley Express: "All my friends and family will be there. I'm a Burnley fan and have always followed them. I had a season ticket until I turned professional at United in 2009.
"You can see the ground from my bedroom window at my mum and dad's house, so it will be great to play in front of so many people I know, and I've been warned 'don't you dare score.'"
Norwood will line up for a Coventry side that could be boosted with Alex Nimely (on loan from Manchester City) starting after a knock relegated him to the bench at Bristol City.
Other players in that game, including defenders Richard Keogh and Chris Hussey and forwards Cody McDonald and Clive Platt have all been struggling recently but are now fit and expected to play.
Their team against Bristol City was: Joe Murphy, Richard Keogh, Chris Hussey, Martin Cranie, Jordan Clarke, Sammy Clingan, Gary Deegan, Oliver Norwood, Gary McSheffrey, Cody McDonald, Clive Platt. Subs: Chris Dunn, Jordan Willis, Cyrus Christie, Gael Bigirimana, Alex Nimely.
Last Time They Were Here
It took two Jay Rodriguez goals, his first brace for the Clarets, to earn us a point in the home game against Coventry last season.
Under new management with the sacking of Aidy Boothroyd, Coventry must have wondered what else they had to do to win the points and the one they took home from a 2-2 draw was scant reward.
|Jay Rodriguez scored both Burnley goals|
With the exception of Jay Rod and Dean Marney we didn't play very well at all after Howe gave his side a vote of confidence following the 3-0 home defeat against Millwall three days earlier.
Jay gave us the lead in what was our first real attack after Coventry had opened the better side. He received the ball from Tyrone Mears before brilliantly beating a defender and then lobbing goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
It was the second half when Coventry really took command and it was no surprise when the goals finally came. Lukas Jutkiewicz, who made his Middlesbrough debut against us in January this year, got the equaliser before Gary McSheffrey scored what we thought was the winner for them.
But Jay came to the rescue when he scored from a Danny Fox corner to give us a very undeserved point.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff, Danny Fox, Jack Cork (Chris Iwelumo 77), Dean Marney (Wade Elliott 40), Ross Wallace (Marvin Bartley 65), Chris Eagles, Jay Rodriguez, Nathan Delfouneso. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, David Edgar, Andre Bikey, Graham Alexander.
Coventry: Keiren Westwood, Jordan Clarke, Richard Keogh, Richard Wood, Stephen O'Halloran (Chris Hussey 57), Carl Baker, Sammy Clingan, Aron Gunnarsson, Gary McSheffrey, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Freddy Eastwood. Subs not used: Michael Quirke, David Bell, Josh Ruffels, Nathan Cameron, Roy O'Donovan, Michael McIndoe.
Previous Games against Coventry City
|Last 20 Years|
|2001/02||Division 1||a||2-0||16,849||Taylor, Little|
|2002/03||Division 1||h||3-1||13,470||Blake(pen), Grant, Davenport(og)|
|2005/06||Championship||h||4-0||11,683||G O'Connor, Thomas, Akinbiyi(2)|
|2008/09||Championship||a||3-1||14,621||Duff, Blake, Eagles|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Coventry City