Blake lights up the Turf

Last updated : 11 December 2004 By Tony Scholes
Robbie Blake - wonder strike to give us the lead
Over the years there have been great goals, streaky goals, some classic own goals and some well worked goals scored on the Turf but no one could recall a strike anything like the one with which Robbie gave us the lead right on half time.

He won a free kick some thirty-five yards from goal on the left hand side, it was a clear foul. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I told my brother when he suggested that Robbie should have a crack at goal. “He’s at least 35 yards out and couldn’t possibly score,” I added.

I’m not going to complain to Robbie that he made me eat my words as he hit the free kick like a rocket. It simply soared into the top corner and was still rising and still gathering pace.

Some will say a keeper shouldn’t be beaten from that distance, in reality former Burnley keeper Gavin Ward didn’t have a chance. If you are going to score your fiftieth goal for your club then this was no bad way to do it.

It was the last action of a first half that had not altogether gone our way at all after a bright start but despite Preston having plenty of possession they hadn’t troubled us too much in terms of shots on goal.

That I suppose is not surprising when you have a striker such as Patrick Agyemang who does somewhat lack the quality needed to play at this level, but better players than him would have struggled with the way our two central defenders Gary Cahill and Frank Sinclair played.

It wasn’t a perfect afternoon for Frank, he was booked for winning the ball when the assistant got it completely wrong and that means he will now miss the next two games against Sunderland and Crewe.

We had the first real effort of the half when James O’Connor got in a shot after a link up with Blake but we struggled to put too much together at times during the first half and found ourselves on the back foot far too often.

The ball was given away too much in the midfield and this prevented us from creating too much although Ian Moore came close to getting on the end of a low Mo Camara cross from the left.

Preston though didn’t look like a side good enough to take advantage of it and the only real save that Brian Jensen had to make was to tip an Eddie Lewis effort away.

Gary Cahill - another top performance from the Villa youngster
It looked as though it was going to be all square at 0-0 at half time and then Robbie struck to lift the entire ground (well, three sides of it).

The visitors tried to put a bit of half time entertainment on led by manager Billy Davies. He chased after referee Tony Leake to remonstrate and there were certainly some problems that upset Mo.

Claude Davis removed his shirt for some reason and Preston came out of that particular melee with no credit at all. It was almost like watching Weary Whinger again.

As it happens referee Leake, if anything, had leaned towards Preston and it was hard to accept that we had seen two of our players carded yet such as Lewis, Youl Mawene and in particular Claude Davis had got away with it.

If Preston had failed to make the most of their possession in the first half it certainly wasn’t set to improve in the second period and although again they had a fair amount of the possession they really struggled to trouble our back line.

There are suggestions that they could have had a couple of penalties, one of them certainly looked so, but as the game went on it became more and more likely that they wouldn’t get back into the game.

They tried a couple of long range efforts from free kicks but Lewis, twice guilty of nasty challenges in the second half, hit them well wide to cries of, “You’re not Robbie Blake,” from the home support.

Richard Cresswell missed with a header when he really should have troubled Brian Jensen. “Taxi for Cresswell,” came from the Longside. Funnily enough there was nothing in the way of Dingle chants coming from the Cricket Field End.

In a way a 1-0 win would have been perfect, the goal deserved to win it, but with five minutes to go we doubled the lead and it was that man Blake again.

This time he run onto a ball down the right hand side and superbly beat Chris Lucketti. As he moved into the box he saw off Davis but Lucketti got back to almost put a shot into his own goal. Ward could only parry it and Robbie was first in to volley home.

Preston did respond and substitute Omar Daly missed a chance just as Robbie was being announced as Man of the Match. Many of the Preston fans missed Daly’s effort, for some reason they were now leaving quicker than a Robbie Blake free kick. It must have been ‘Time to Go’.

Referee Leake finally brought it to an end, and the win sees us half way through the season with 33 points and I don’t think you will hear many complaints about that.

It might not have been the best of performances but we defended well, the keeper and the back four all did well, and here there has to be special mention again for youngster Gary Cahill. He really does look as though he is going to be a top player.

Yes, we defended well, and then there was Robbie Blake.

The teams were,

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Michael Duff, Gary Cahill, Frank Sinclair, Mo Camara, Lee Roche, James O’Connor, Tony Grant (Jean-Louis Valois 78), Micah Hyde, Ian Moore, Robbie Blake. Subs not used: Paul Scott, Joel Pilkington, Amadou Sanokho, Matt O’Neill.

Preston: Gavin Ward, Youl Mawene, Claude Davis, Chris Lucketti, Callum Davidson, Dickson Etuhu, Paul McKenna, Brian O’Neil (Omar Daly 89), Eddie Lewis, Richard Cresswell, Patrick Agyemang. Subs not used: Chris Neal, Graham Alexander, Marlon Broomes, Simon Lynch.

Referee: Tony Leake (Darwen).

Attendance: 15,318.