There was still part of me believing that we would escape, with a win at Hull being the first of a series of end of season miracles. By 4.50 pm it was apparent the Hope had been misplaced, we had won with a gritty hard working performance, but had been relegated with results elsewhere.
This was Burnley in a nutshell, this team has played with heart and passion all season, we have been competitive in virtually every game, defensively sound, that lack of creativity and cutting edge in the final third is what has cost us. Illustrated on MOTD with a caption that showed we were 18th in shots on target and 20th in both goals scored and shots per goal.
We can moan about the finances but QPR have spent £33m and Hull £42.6m yet both find themselves in the bottom three, not yet relegated, but this is the level of investment clubs are spending in the Premier league.
|Danny Ings pounced to score the winning goal|
The game itself was a good one from a Burnley perspective, not sure Hull want us to play them in the Premier League as that is now four wins out of four. We travelled in with a group of Hull fans fearing the worst, never won in May, Burnley a bogie team and this was reflected in the atmosphere in the ground. A full house, but not one that really got behind the team. That could not be said about the travelling Clarets in a full away end, that made a tremendous noise throughout.
We started on the front foot and had a corner in the first minute, Hull replied with an attack and Quinn went close. Elmohamady was a threat down the right and was getting a lot of the ball and crosses coming in. Trippier then gave away a free kick on the edge of the box and Brady had his first attempt of the game, into the wall, it was just a sighter. We were having a lot of the ball and Trippier as always was looking our best outlet, Hull had a couple of speculative shots and then there was a cleared header by Shackell.
Leicester were 2 up and we had now gone over 10 hours without a goal. Ashley Barnes with a header on the half hour was the closest we had come, but Hull were getting closer an N’Doye header followed by a Brady free kick which clipped the bar, the impetus was with Hull, but half time came and went. A guest appearance by Big Billy Whitehurst an archetypal bruiser of a centre forward who plied his trade in the lower reaches of the football league in the 80’s, not remembered by me with any fondness, but Hull City Tigers like him, a blast from the past, just like the Rocky theme tune that blasted out on the players return to the pitch.
The second half began and in contrast to the first half we started poorly, Hull had a couple of half chances, we replied with an Ashley Barnes overhead kick. A driven cross from Taylor flashed past Barnes. Danny Ings went on a mazy dribble and was tripped in the box. Penalty. Alas no. Hull’s response was to send on two substitutions. This was greeted with some noise from the home stands, they had awakened from their slumber by the Humber.
It was Burnley on the attack though, we won a corner, but the game was halted for a bizarre incident involving Michael Dawson, there had been a clash of heads on the edge of the box, Dawson was bleeding and was told to change his shirt, not quite in the style of Andre Bikey. Dawson stropped off, taking his shirt off and was left on the side-lines as the corner came in. In the ensuing melee, the ball was half cleared a couple of times, until it fell to Mee who chipped the ball in Brady poorly cleared and Ings pounced. Goal. Cue bedlam, there was a lot of pent up frustration in that goal and that was reflected in the chaotic CELEBRATIONS. It was like we had won the league, it did not change the situation for us, but it meant that Hull had been well and truly dragged into the mire and we still believed.
Hull sent on a £10million substitute, but it was the barnstorming Barnes who had the ball in the net, bundling Harper and the ball into the net. Had it been the 1950’s we would have been 2-0 up. The ball went down the other end and we gave away another free kick near the edge of the box. Almost identical to the position that Hull had found themselves with in the first half, unbelievably Brady hit the bar again. These are the fine margins that people talk about. Hull threw the numbers forward, it was not to be their day, nor was it ours, a fantastic win, but we were relegated. The players and fans stayed behind to acclaim each other, it is another return to the Championship.
We now have to endure three months of speculation, reflection and rumours before another season in the Championship begins. The team has got heart, it has leaders and we can give anyone a game, just ask the former Champions and current Champions of England. Burnley are back, it is not the outcome we had hoped for at the start of the season, but that fighting spirit will carry us next season as we make another attempt to get back to the Premier League.