Burnley and Crystal Palace are two very similar teams; both big on organisation and industry, both strong defensively and both dangerous from set-piece play.
If Saturday's Premier League encounter at Turf Moor – and indeed previous encounters- were anything to go by, then perhaps they are too similar to produce a really engrossing game of football.
Palace emerged victorious yesterday, and there was no doubt that over the span of the match, they deserved to do so, but had Burnley been closer to their best; had their play at each end of the field been up to its usual standard, then it would have been the Clarets who would have secured the win.
It recent weeks, and indeed for most of their Burnley careers, Nick Pope, Ben Mee and Chris Wood have been the very epitome of reliability; but yesterday all three were culpable in key moments which steered the game Palace’s way.
Pope was beaten at his near post by Wilfried Zaha, cutting in from the left wing and striking a none-too-threatening shot.
The goal, coming as it did in first half stoppage time, was constructed along similar lines to one which Palace had earlier seen disallowed for an offside so obvious that it surely didn’t require the prolonged involvement of VAR to confirm.
The annoyance was that Burnley failed to heed that warning.
In the second half, Burnley were sprightlier to begin with, Erik Pieters drilled a volley into the side-netting from a tight angle and there was generally more impetus to their play. But the impression one had gleaned that this was destined to be “one of those days” was confirmed when Wood blazed over the bar whilst only ten yards from goal and with only a neat side-foot into the corner of a gaping goal required.
Wood has been in impressive form of late and it was a genuine shock to see him waste such a glorious chance. He might also have scored shortly afterwards from a header which was scooped off the line.
As it was, the play switched to the other end, where Ben Mee sliced a routine clearance into the path of Jeffrey Schlupp who doubled Palace’s lead with the sort of composed finish which had deserted Wood.
Thereafter, Palace were never about to squander their hard-fought lead. They defended stoutly and strongly, but also irritated the home crowd by flagrantly milking the clock with the aid of an over-indulgent referee.
All-in-all, a bad day at the office for Burnley; excusable in the light of recent performances? Perhaps, but with fixtures against Manchester City and Jose Mourinho’s resurgent Spurs lying in wait around the bend, it was poorly-timed.
Written on behalf of Clarets Mad by Dave Thornley. (TEC)