Owen Coyle, you're a ******
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Tuesday, 22nd July 2008
A goal from Joey Gudjonsson just before half time was enough to give the Clarets a 1-0 win at Firhill Park against Partick Thistle in our second of three games this week in Scotland.
Penny came out ahead of kick off to the warmest of receptions from the travelling Burnley fans and he's already got his own song which I'm sure will be heard on countless occasions whilst he's a Burnley player.
He lined up in a team that was much changed from the one that had played at Queen of the South two days earlier. Only scorer Gudjonsson and the two full backs Graham Alexander and Christian Kalvenes remained from that team with Owen Coyle making eight changes as he shuffled his pack with only Remco van der Schaaf and captain Steven Caldwell unavailable.
Michael Duff and Stephen Jordan started in the centre of defence, whilst in midfield Gudjonsson was joined by Alan Mahon and the pair were flanked by Alex MacDonald and Steve Jones. Up front Jay Rodriguez partnered trialist Gatis Kalnins (we will now dispense with the fancy letters, otherwise we would also have to refer to our goalscorer as Jˇhannes Gujˇnsson).
We could have gone behind early in the game as they broke through down the right side but Penny got to the ball first to clear the ball into the stand, but it wasn't to set the pattern for the game and we were soon into our stride.
Despite this we weren't creating too much but the Clarets were keen to get the ball out wide to MacDonald and Jones and they were both, Jones in particular, seeing a lot of the ball. It was inevitable that a chance would come and when it did it was a headed opportunity for Gudjonsson but he couldn't get anything on it and it was easy for the Thistle goalkeeper.
Burnley continued to press and the two youngsters in the side, Rodriguez and MacDonald, almost got us in front. Maybe Jay could have got the ball over the advancing keeper but instead he played the ball into the box from Macca and only a superb defensive challenge prevented him from giving the Clarets the lead.
We were worth a lead and it finally came with most of us checking our watches at the end of the half. A ball in from the right was taken down by Rodriguez on the chest and he played it in for Gudjonsson who this time took the chance for his first goal since that glorious night at Watford last November.
The second half brought changes, five of them initially and two more followed. For a while it disrupted us but once back in our stride we started to dominate with Ade Akinbiyi playing a crucial role in most of our attacks.
We couldn't find that second goal but we were testing Thistle and their fans were taking it out on our manager. 'Owen Coyle, you're a ******' they chanted. I couldn't work out quite why but apparently, no matter who he played for, he had a habit of scoring against them. I bit like Shaun Goater and Darren Byfield with us.
At 1-0 the lead is always vulnerable and Partick came close to a leveller from a free kick outside the box. Simon Donnelly, formerly of Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday, tested us with the kick. It was heading for the bottom corner but Penny was up to it and got down superbly to his left to tip the shot round the post for a corner.
McDonald, McCann and Blake were all denied and then Ade had a double effort that was initially blocked but we just couldn't get that second goal. In the end we didn't need it, the home side didn't really look likely to get an equaliser and so it proved as the referee brought it all to an end.
When you lose a pre-season friendly it is said it is all about fitness, but when you don't lose them you can go on about the result, and that's three without defeat now for the Clarets with two wins and a draw.
It's no perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but there were more than enough positives to take out of this game. There were good performances all round and you can start with the two in the centre of defence who hardly put a foot wrong. Then there was Kalvenes who turned in another assured performance at left back.
But on this occasion I'd like to reserve the plaudits for some of the younger players in the side. Rodriguez and MacDonald did ever so well in the first half and in the second half the more experienced Chris McCann showed us all what he's about.
It is so easy to consider McCann now as an experienced player, and he is with over 100 league appearances to his credit, but yesterday he was celebrating just his 21st birthday.
Trialist Kalnins had a difficult first half but it must have been difficult for him playing alongside team mates he's just met and with the pressure of being on trial. He got the first half and will get another opportunity in the next game.
And that's further north in Perth and a date with St. Johnstone, and I rather think Owen Coyle might just get a better reception from the home fans at McDiarmid Park than he was granted by the Partick Thistle fans.
The teams were;
Partick Thistle: Craig Hinchcliffe, Paul Paton (Ricky Little), Marc Twadddle (Simon Storey), Ryan McStay (Gary Harkins), Willie Kinniburgh, Ian Maxwell (John Robertson), A Trialist, Stephen McKeown, A Trialist (David Rowson), Scott Chaplain (Simon Donnelly), Kevin McKinlay (Mark Roberts).
Burnley: Diego Penny, Graham Alexander, Michael Duff, Stephen Jordan, Christian Kalvenes (Clarke Carlisle 74), Alex MacDonald (Robbie Blake 67), Joey Gudjonsson (Chris McCann 45), Alan Mahon (Kevin McDonald 45), Steve Jones (Wade Elliott 45), Gatis Kalnins (Ade Akinbiyi 45), Jay Rodriguez (Martin Paterson 45). Subs not used: Gabor Kiraly, Adam Kay, Bes Berisha.