A Missed Opportunity at Molineux

Last updated : 27 August 2019 By Dave Thornley

Whilst the second miracle of Headingley was unfolding in dramatic fashion afternoon, it was possible to temporarily forget the fact that Burnley were about to embark on an English Premier League fixture against Wolves at Molineux.

Fortunately, Ben Stokes had the good grace to knock off the winning runs just in time before the Clarets kicked off.

The euphoric mood was enhanced further when Ashley Barnes fired Burnley ahead in the thirteenth minute. An emphatic finish to a precise and elegantly constructed move, which belied the “Anti-Football” label hung around the Burnley team by ignorant social-media trolls.

The remainder of the first half was pretty much all-Burnley, a Chris Wood shot well-saved by Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal; a Ben Mee header against the crossbar followed by a scramble in which the ball rested on the goal line without having the decency to cross it.

Early in the second half Ashley Barnes met a right wing cross at the near post only to steer his shot narrowly wide, the culmination of a number of presentable chances to go 2-0 up and put clear water between the Clarets and their hosts.

The unwritten and undeniable rule of footballing karma however, states that such profligacy will return to haunt those who indulge in flouting its conventions.

And so it was that as the game entered its fifth minute of added time, a challenge by Erik Pieters, which was relatively innocuous in its severity, was deemed by VAR to be worthy of the award of a penalty to the home team.

Raul Jimenez stroked the spot kick past Nick Pope to rescue a point which for large chunks of the game seemed an unlikely return.

VAR is still in its infancy and its efficacy must be judged over a longer period of time. But at the moment it still holds the fascination of a new toy. This has led to officials conducting repeated viewings of challenges like that of Pieters yesterday and this repetition can result in altered perceptions.

It was a marginal penalty award, but surely Burnley will be the beneficiary of similar decisions as the season progresses? … Yeah, right !

Around about this time last year, Burnley, befuddled and disoriented by their odyssey in the Europa League, were torn apart by a rampaging Wolves team in the corresponding fixture of last season. Yesterday, the roles were reversed and it was Wolves who were obliged to play three times in the space of a week and took on Burnley after an energy-sapping trip to Turin.

But if the Molineux faithful were anticipating a match as similarly undemanding as last season’s they were instead confronted by a more positive, more focused and altogether better prepared Burnley team.

So despite the disappointment of losing their lead in such a cruel manner, a point won away from home in the Premier League is never to be sneered at and four points from their first three games represents a sturdy start to the season for the Clarets.

Written by Cricket and Claret enthusiast Dave Thornley on behalf of Clarets Mad. (TEC)