A returning Matty Taylor missed a crucial penalty in the second half and within 60 seconds the ball was in the other net and it was the Leicester fans erupting in celebration. It was a game of nerves and few chances but Leicester scored the scruffiest of goals to lift them out of the relegation zone.
The result leaves the Clarets in serious trouble at the foot of the table, after the four teams immediately above all picked up points, Hull winning away at Crystal Palace whilst QPR and Sunderland earning draws.
|Taylor’s missed penalty on the hour mark was the flashpoint of the game and a double heartbreak when Leicester scored moments later|
Throughout the week there was nothing but anticipation for the game from myself, no fear or nerves whatsoever, however on the morning I found myself a bundle of nerves and couldn’t concentrate on anything else. The fact it was also my birthday completely passed me by.
We headed over to the Turf from Accrington with a full complement – Brother, Dad, Mum, even family from Edinburgh had made the trip to watch the game, one that had taken on new importance after Leicester’s three back-to-back wins. A side that were considered all but doomed were still in the drop-zone but like Burnley, a win would almost certainly send them clear of trouble.
As the team sheet filtered its way to us via social media, we had made two changes that were both enforced. With Vokes picking up an injury during the week he was replaced by Lukas Jutkiewicz, the other change saw Matty Taylor take Barnes’ place as he serves his suspension picked up against Everton last week. I was hoping we could have some way to get Arfield on the wing where I believe he causes far more problems but our squad wasn’t able to offer that bounty.
As we took our seats the whole stadium stood to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City fire, where 56 fans went to a football match but never came home. This was marked impeccably from both sets of supporters as you would expect.
Before the game kicked off the 500 or so Clarets that had made use of the Cricket Field Stand being open to home supporters for the first time since our last Premier League season were in full voice, and as someone who regularly sits in the Longside near the more vocal fans, the volume of noise that those 500 made just shows how poorly the acoustics in the new stand work, although their singing of ‘we are The Longside Burnley’ was factually incorrect, I wasn’t going to tell them.
The game started with very little in terms of quality. Leicester appeared to be settling for a counter-attacking game whilst we were struggling to win the midfield battle and get momentum. Ings and Jutkiewicz both had shots in the opening 5 minutes but these were half chances at best. It was from a counter attack that the Foxes crafted their first chance.
Some neat play on the wing between Konchesky, Cambiasso and Vardy resulted in a fine cross from the latter into the six yard box, that was headed wide by Shackell. Had he not got his glancing touch Leonardo Ulloa was waiting to crash a volley into the net at the far post.
From the resulting corner, Robert Huth beat Duff to the ball in the air but Matty Taylor was first to react to the knock down and belted the ball clear. This was the only header Duff would fail to win all game.
Meanwhile referee Anthony Taylor saw fit to blow his whistle for just about anything at all. Ironic home cheers when the whistles rewarded us with free-kicks, uncommon in the first 20-30 minutes of the match. Meanwhile the 500 clarets were louder than their 2000 Leicester counterparts, who I thought were incredibly quiet considering their numbers and form.
On the half hour mark it was Burnley’s turn to swing the ball in from the corner spot, and this time Duff won the header at the far post but Matty Taylor – his back to goal – just couldn’t get any connection on the ball at all. Schmeichel pushed the ball out and the ball was cleared. Jutkiewicz, falling over Taylor in his efforts to reach the rebound, beat the ground in frustration. The players seemed to be aware that chances would be few and far between in this game.
A full blooded tackle from Jones lifted the home crowd momentarily, but other than that the first half ended with a whimper. I think all four sides of the ground were glad to have some respite from a tense first 45 minutes.
Alas my quest in search of a pie at half time was in vain. How a professional Football Club cannot meet basic supply and demand needs baffles me.
The second half began with an early Burnley corner that was aimed once again for our imperious aerial machine Michael Duff, who was having a tremendous game. His header was destined for the goal, or at least a save from Schmeichel, but Leonardo Ulloa was on hand to head the ball over the top. It felt like it was time for a goal, and in a game like this one goal would probably prove decisive.
On 58 minutes came the critical moments that may come to define our season. A ball forward from Shackell was expertly chested into the path of Danny Ings by Jutkiewicz. Ings, who had a quiet first half, shifted the ball from left to right to left and powered a shot with his left foot that was too close to the Leicester ‘keeper, but the ball was palmed away to Konchesky in the Leicester penalty box when Matty Taylor nipped in to take it from him. Konchesky tripped Taylor in the process and the referee pointed to the spot. It was a clear penalty.
Taylor picked the ball up, there was no way he was letting anybody else take the penalty. He had busted a gut to get to the dawdling Konchesky and despite his lack of match practice was having a good game. After scoring some high-pressure penalties for Portsmouth not so long ago he seemed the man of the moment.
But he only found the edge of the post with his left footed strike.
From the angle we were sat it appeared to have glanced off Schmeichel and into the net and parts of the Turf cheered a goal that never was. Taylor may have slipped just as he struck the ball but he missed the target from twelve yards and we were made to pay just sixty seconds later.
With Burnley fans still coming to terms with this golden chance squandered, Leicester raced up the pitch and Marc Albrighton got free of George Boyd who was nowhere near tight enough on his man. Albrighton hit a great ball to the near post for Jamie Vardy and the ball found its way across the line despite the best efforts from Tom Heaton.
The ball had deflected off Duff's outstretched boot and Heaton miraculously managed to dive back into his net and palm the ball across the goal line. If Vardy had not been there to nudge the ball over the line this save would have been replayed over and over on Match of the Day. It wasn’t to be and Leicester took the lead.
My disappointment in not getting a pie now seemed trivial.
Not long after the net bulged, a ‘Hoos Out’ banner was displayed by the Clarets in the Cricket Field Stand. Although I wish their focus and voices were immediately fired back out to support the players, I have full sympathy with the message it was putting across.
Ten minutes later Sean Dyche made two changes with Sordell and Wallace coming on for Jutkiewicz and the anonymous Boyd.
Burnley began to pile on the pressure and after Taylor blew the whistle on another soft coming together, Ings’ rage earned him a yellow card. The players were definitely up for it.
Shortly after coming on, Ross Wallace floated a ball over to the left wing for Ben Mee, on the edge of the box. Ritchie De Laet hadn’t been on the pitch for long but his mistake almost cost Leicester their lead. Mee is more known for putting his face in the way of thunderbolt strikes from the opposition but his touch to control the ball was masterful. He fired a volley at goal from inside the box, the shot was heading wide before Robert Huth stretched across goal and almost put the ball in his own net, eerily similar to Leicester’s goal. This time however, Schmeichel was able to palm the ball to safety and Leicester cleared.
The remainder of the game fizzled out, and Leicester should have doubled their lead before the end of the game. In the 91st minute, countering a Burnley side who now had Michael Duff up front, the ball was laid off to sub Matty James who struck the ball sweet and low but Heaton’s outstretched iron fist denied him a goal.
Burnley had a late corner and a few half chances towards the end but Leicester held on for their fourth consecutive win that hauled them out of the relegation zone.
All in all it was a tough defeat for us after once again creating chances and failing to score. Leicester had barely a sight on goal and their goal itself was blessed with fortune. Burnley never quite dominated but anybody who has seen us this season would find it hard to believe we can have 60% possession in a game against anyone.
It leaves us in a dire situation, but we need look no further than Leicester for encouragement. If they can win 4 on the trot then Burnley can.
We have no time to stand and stare. We need to back the lads for the last four games – all of which are winnable. If we get relegated, and that is more than likely now, we can look back and play the blame game, but for the next 4 games all our energy, will and resolve needs to be at the backs of these player who have given us everything this season regardless of what happens.
Chin up Clarets, we aren’t dead yet.