Always look on the bright side of life
Report of match Birmingham City 2 Burnley 1 played 1st May 2010
Reporter Tony Scholes
The Burnley fans enjoyed themselves at St. Andrew's yesterday as we lost our last away Premier League game of the season 2-1 against Birmingham City.
Those who travelled decided it was going to be a fun day whilst on the field we fell to another defeat that was so predictable in how it came about. We played some good football but shot ourselves in the foot with some crazy goals whilst yet again not getting the rub of the green when it came to decisions.
It seems to have been the story of life in the top flight for the Clarets. Goals have gone into our net at an alarming rate all season on the road. At Christmas we were averaging more than three goals against per game and, although that's now been reduced to just over 2.7, the simple fact is we've not kept a single clean sheet on the road.
Nothing changed here. We should have had an early penalty before giving away two of the softest goals imaginable although the second of them came from a ridiculously awarded free kick.
Brian Laws had intended naming the same team that had played Liverpool six days earlier, but a back injury to Michael Duff left him able only to take a place on the bench and he was replaced by captain Steven Caldwell who was getting his first start since the game at Wolves a week before Christmas.
It was the usual pattern. We played some nice stuff but looked more than capable of conceding a goal. Birmingham should have scored almost immediately but Lee Bowyer headed wide.
However, when Tyrone Mears went down in the box a penalty should have been awarded. Needless to say it was waved away.
We were having a lot of the ball and much of the play was in the Birmingham half, but there was always the worry that they would open us up and when the first goal came, predictably it went to the home side.
Again it was poor, poor defending from the Clarets. Danny Fox should have closed them down to prevent the cross and then the defenders in the middle were static. Even with all that they were missing the opportunity until Brian Jensen guided it in for them.
1-0 down and twelve minutes later it was 2-0. Again it came from a right wing cross but this time the flag happy assistant has to take responsibility. I don't care what Graham Poll might say, this was not a foul and not a free kick. But the free kick was given and in an almost carbon copy of the first goal we didn't do anything in the middle. This time it was Benitez who chested it in after it had been headed back in from just beyond the far post.
Four minutes to half time and it was game over. But the Burnley fans were enjoying themselves. "That's why we're going down," they sang coupled with "Going down and we're having a laugh." Then the old repertoire was opened up. "ELI-ELI-ELI," was next followed by "Ooh George Oghani," with "Jimmy Mullen's Claret & Blue Army" and "Teasdale Out, thrown in.
The support for the Clarets on the road this season has, in the main, been excellent, and again it was all good humoured.
The second half was very similar to the first. We played some good stuff and I thought Steven Fletcher was outstanding until injury forced him off. Even so a goal always looked more likely at the other end.
We made substitutions. Robbie Blake came on, as did Steven Thompson and then Kevin McDonald was introduced to cries of "It's your round," and he didn't seem to be appreciative of it.
Two of those subs were involved when the third goal of the game arrived. Fox played a free kick to Blake who turned well to play in the hugely impressive Jack Cork. Cork in turn found Thompson who went through to finish well with his right foot, the shot going across Joe Hart into the corner of the net.
We did have one opportunity to score again but so did Birmingham and we couldn't have any real complaints at the final score.
Once again we'd lost on our travels because we didn't defend well enough as a team. It was like that at the beginning of the season and it's still like that now. We've never been able to resolve that problem.
That's it for the away trips this season and despite the results it's been enjoyable. I never thought I'd be inside the likes of Old Trafford and Anfield again watching us play league games. I've loved it. I'll miss it next season and can now only hope that I'll get the same opportunity again.
The teams were;
Birmingham: Joe Hart, Stuart Parnaby (Keith Fahey 79), Roger Johnson, Liam Ridgewell, Gregory Vignal, Sebastian Larsson, Lee Bowyer, Barry Ferguson, James McFadden (Michel 67), Cameron Jerome (Lee Carsley 90), Christian Benitez. Subs not used: Maik Taylor, David Murphy, Teemu Tainio, Nathan Redmond.
Yellow Cards: Stuart Parnaby, Gregory Vignal.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Leon Cort, Steven Caldwell, Danny Fox, Graham Alexander (Kevin McDonald 85), Wade Elliott, Jack Cork, Martin Paterson, Steven Fletcher (Steven Thompson 68), David Nugent (Robbie Blake 65). Subs not used: Nicky Weaver, Michael Duff, Andre Bikey, Jay Rodriguez.
Yellow Cards: Danny Fox.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).