Few if any, of the spectators at Turf Moor on Saturday would consider the Premier League match between Burnley and Newcastle United to be the most entertaining ninety minutes of football that they had ever sat through, but for the majority of those watching, the result mattered far more than the performance.
Having suffered three consecutive defeats, it was important that Burnley halted the slide and emerged from this match with something to show in the points for column.
Burnley fans have witnessed this performance from their team so many times in the past; compact, functional, hard-working and settled by a single set-piece goal. Brazil in 1970 it was not – Burnley in 2019 it most definitely was.
The return from injury of the two Ashley’s – Barnes and Westwood – were important factors in Burnley’s victory, a sense of normality had been restored to the Clarets’ ranks. Westwood indeed was the game’s outstanding player and with Jack Cork buzzing around alongside him, Burnley held the edge in the midfield trenches.
A drab first half was enlivened only by a Dwight McNeill shot which Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka turned around the post and an Andy Carrol header which he placed wide of the Burnley goal, causing fans to retreat to the warmth of the catering stalls earnestly hoping for better after the break.
The Clarets were generally better in the second half, without fashioning much in the way of chances, but just on the hour mark Burnley were awarded a rather bizarre corner.
Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez flopped on top of the ball, under pressure from Chris Wood, and rolled the it over the goal line as it wedged under his chest.
It was an unusual way to concede a corner, and it certainly seemed to confuse rookie referee Tim Robinson, who initially awarded a goal kick only to have the error of his ways brought to his attention by his assistant.
In post-match interviews, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce was insistent that Wood had fouled Fernandez, but there seemed nothing untoward either at the time or after viewing the TV footage.
If there a better exponent of the in-swinging corner in the Premier League than Burnley midfielder Ashley Westwood, I would like to see him!
His delivery from the flag has been a regular source of goal-scoring opportunities for Burney all season and yesterday’s instalment homed in on the unchallenged head of Chris Wood at the far post, who promptly found the roof of the Magpie’s net.
Not a goal likely to win any “Goal of the Season” awards, but it was enough to win yesterday’s match for the Clarets, and ultimately that matters more.
Burnley’s lead was never really challenged by a largely lacklustre Newcastle team, although Dwight Gayle prodded a near post cross wide of Nick Pope’s goal when he probably should have done better and at the other end, Jack Cork drew a good save out of Dubravka after seizing on some hesitancy in the Newcastle back line.
All in all, it was a poor match played in appalling weather, but one from which Burnley emerged victorious and for that we Clarets fans should be truly thankful.
This rather subdued match report was written by our regular Clarets Mad contributor, Dave Thornley. (TEC).