Black day in Blackpool

Last updated : 01 January 2008 By Dave Blackburn
Jon Harley
Jon Harley - Man of the Match
On a day which Burnley fans and players alike will want to forget about as quickly as possible, Blackpool stormed to a 3-0 victory at the worst ground in the Championship, Bloomfield Road. From the minute Burnley fans arrived there was a deathly silence throughout the Gene Kelly Stand and despite attempts at noise from a minority the Burnley fans were poor from the first minute, put to shame by the Blackpool fans in a reflection of what was to come on the pitch.

From the first minute it was Blackpool, Blackpool, Blackpool and only one side looked like they had come to play a game of football. Twice Burnley were saved by the offside flag before a corner was headed in near side by Kaspars Gorkss. The only word to describe the goal was easy, from corner to head to goal Burnley never looked like stopping it.

We thought it could only get better and we were wrong - 8 minutes later David Unsworth suffered a "leg knock" and had to be replaced by Stephen Jordan. In recent weeks criticism of Jordan has been over the top and frankly unfair, but he lived down to it today.

Kyle Lafferty seemed to be the only Burnley player interested in anything, but unfortunately he was only interested in fouling opposition players and then shouting at the referee. In all honesty, if it hadn't been for that it would have been easy not to notice he was playing.

For a time before the first period ended it seemed Burnley might be able to come back in - Robbie Blake's one contribution of the game, a well floated free kick from just outside the area forced a great save from ex-Burnley 'keeper Rachubka - who incidentally looked better today than either of our 'keepers have this season - but other than that what was Burnley's best spell of the game was to amount to very little.

The half-time break was spent mostly in a dismayed silence by Burnley fans - surely it had to get better? So far everything was terrible - terrible football, terrible scoreline, terrible atmosphere. As things turned out, that was just the beginning.

After a continuation to his form of the first half, Blake was replaced by Akinbiyi on 56 minutes. Akinbiyi was, to put it politely, no better. It was only another 3 minutes until Blackpool struck again - a corner was cleared but the lack of a Burnley man up the pitch meant the ball was straight back to our box, Claus Jorgensen's cross converted, again with ease, by Ben Burgess from just yards out. From the minute the ball left Jorgensen's foot it was in, there was no question about it.

At this point a small amount of Burnley fans began to leave, and they certainly made the right decision. Just four minutes after the second, ex-Faroe Islands international Jorgensen was given a chance just outside the box - the ball was scrambled out by the Burnley defence but it fell to him in acres of space and as he remained unchallenged he was able to hit the back of the net. At this point the Blackpool fans became even more impressive, loud until the end. If we could have that kind of atmosphere at home you can't help but feel we might win 3-0 once in a while.

Unfortunately, due to our depleted squad our choice for a third substitute was between Steve Jones and Garreth O'Connor, although there was some luck as Lafferty needed to be replaced. He seemed to react to something said by a Burnley fan and drew a lot of stick from one section of the crowd. Talk is rife of a move away for Lafferty, and if we're hoping for a big money move we'd better hope nobody saw him today. Having said that, Jones was even worse. It's clear for all to see that he just doesn't care.

Despite the depressing scoreline, Burnley kept plugging away and finally it came to a chance. Wade Elliott found himself free on goal having cut inside, and it seemed easier to hit the target than not, but not he did, the ball sailing wide of the target - Wade was not his usual self today, but this was not helped by the non-performance of the returning Graham Alexander. He's never looked the most comfortable player going forward but today he didn't look comfortable at the back, and it was finally clear why clubs are after Wes Hoolahan this window.

For my money, two Burnley players walked away from the game today with any credit. It was great to see Andy Gray back so soon after his injury, and although he created little and never really looked like scoring he worked his socks off. However, Man of the Match had to be Jon Harley - he was the only Burnley player who seemed to control his opposite number, and Gary Taylor-Fletcher had to be pulled out of his pocket upon his substitution.

All in all though, this "performance" was a million light years from what we expect, what we're used to and what we need. Never mind Arsenal next weekend, if we play like that against teams like West Brom and Watford we're in even more trouble. I think it's clear that we need to bring in at least 2 or 3 this window, and most importantly players need to start playing like they want to be, week in week out.

Still, at least it didn't rain.