Clarets held as we pay the penalty

Last updated : 18 August 2015 By Tony Scholes

It was a game of talking points, certainly in the case of two penalties, and it was a day when Michael Keane and Matt Taylor, who had just come on as a substitute, both scored their first Burnley goals.

At the time, I could see no reason why we should not have been awarded an early penalty and I wasn't so sure they should have been during the second half when referee David Coote pointed to the spot. Nothing since has changed my view on either.

Coote had a nightmare and it's a shame that he's dominated the discussions on the game because we really should be talking about Keane's goal, a first by a Burnley central defender since Michael Duff scored against the same opponents at St. Andrew's in March 2014, and that special free kick from Taylor that completed the scoring just a few minutes after he'd come on.

Unfortunately, Coote does dominate because of an afternoon of bizarre decisions, too many to mention, that left you wondering whether it might be easier to select six winning lottery numbers than working out what he was going to do next.

A first Burnley goal for Michael Keane

I'm of an age now, old enough to use my bus pass to get to the game, but, after all these years of watching the Clarets, I still get a real buzz ahead of the first home game and my only disappointment was that, for the fourth successive year, it wasn't a 3 p.m. kick off.

I got down there early and caught up with friends outside the ground but was in earlier than usual - nervous as to whether my season card would work I expect - and the players were still warming up when I got to my seat.

It was no surprise that we'd gone back to the starting eleven that had kicked off seven days earlier at Leeds with the only change coming on the bench where 18-year-old winger Brad Jackson replaced Cameron Dummigan on the bench.

Neither side started particularly well but with less than five minutes on the clock I remain mystified as to why Coote wasn't pointing to the spot. Lukas Jutkiewicz was clearly hauled down by Jonathan Spector; the ball should have been on the spot and Spector should have been leaving us with the brandishing of Coote's red card.

Incredibly, he gave nothing and just a few minutes later we found ourselves 1-0 down with him again taking centre stage. Once more Jutkiewicz was hauled down, this time by Michael Morrison; this time, being outside the box, he gave it.

Michael Kightly's free kick was saved by goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak who punted the ball up the pitch. Clayton Donaldson cleverly, because the ref missed it, pushed Keane out of the way and knocked it on for Jon Toral who finished excellently on the half volley.

Both George Boyd and Jutkiewicz had shots but in truth the goal seemed to flatten us a bit and it was Birmingham who came closest. They didn't create much, if anything, and it was their shooting from distance that was causing us problems.

David Cotterill, a player who for much of the afternoon seemed to have problems staying on his feet, fired in a shot against the post and Stephen Gleeson hit a superb dipping volley from a long way out that Tom Heaton was able to tip it over.

Half time arrived with Birmingham a goal up and there was no doubt that we would have to bring about an improvement in the second half if we wanted to get anything from the game.

Thankfully we did and it took us less than six minutes to draw level. Kightly won a free kick on the left flank which he took himself. The kick was flicked on by Jelle Vossen for Keane coming in at the back post, stooping to head home. He came close to a goal a few times last season but finally he'd broken his duck.

Donaldson broke almost immediately to test Heaton but Burnley were the side in the ascendancy now although another break from Kightly on the left led to Birmingham going in front again.

He got between two defenders and into the box, but his ball in found a defender who knocked it clear. Ben Mee looked as though he might win it but the referee blocked him and Birmingham broke.

Eventually Donaldson got into the box and went down, seemingly under a challenge from Tendayi Darikwa. The excellently positioned Coote had no hesitation in pointing to the spot with Paul Caddis converting the penalty.

I don't care how people want to dress it up. Don Goodman on Sky described it as very soft, but it's not a soft penalty at all, it isn't one. Donaldson says he's told to go down if he's been touched. He did go down; he hadn't been touched. Basically, and there are no other words for it, Donaldson cheated to get a penalty.

and for Matt Taylor

Once again we were fighting to avoid defeat and we really pushed Birmingham back and how close we came when Darikwa got in a brilliant low cross that Sam Vokes, on as a substitute, just couldn't quite get on the end of. We were getting closer.

With around 12 minutes to go we won a free kick on the edge of the box for yet another foul on Juke, just as Taylor was waiting to come on. This was good refereeing, he waited to see if there was an advantage before giving it and finally carding Spector.

I wanted Taylor on. This is the player who a few years ago won me countless fantasy points when he was with Pompey. He scored a lot of goals and a good number were from his trusty left foot with set pieces.

He came on, took it, and fired it straight into the wall, but we didn't have long to wait. Two minutes later another foul, this time on Boyd, won us another free kick, again after Coote had waited to see if there was an advantage.

This time the finish was sublime, as good as you'll see, as Taylor got it round the wall and into the top of the net without the goalkeeper bothering to move. It was a superb finish.

We continued to press for a winner, but it wasn't to be and I suppose we should be thankful for a point having twice been behind.

So, we go to Ipswich unbeaten in the league, but we also go there having played three competitive games and won none of them.

There is no doubt we are not quite there yet. Today, particularly in the first half, we fell well short of where we need to be in terms of performance. The midfield area seems to be where the problems are and the forwards are, at times, feeding off scraps.

I'm sure it will all change with a good result but we need to get that soon. For now, we'll keep our eyes on the transfer window and hope that we can add at least one midfielder to the squad.

But, we'd have won this game today had those big decisions not gone against us.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Matt Taylor 78), Jelle Vossen (Sam Vokes 67), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Marvin Sordell 84). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Tom Anderson, Stephen Ward, Brad Jackson.
Yellow Cards: Jelle Vossen, Ben Mee, Scott Arfield.

Birmingham: Tomasz Kuszczak, Paul Caddis, Michael Morrison, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Grounds, Stephen Gleeson, Maikel Kieftenbeld, David Cotterill (Paul Robinson 85), Jon Toral (David Davis 75), Demarai Gray (Jaques Maghoma 90), Clayton Donaldson. Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Neal Eardley, Wes Thomas, Andrew Shinnie.
Yellow Card: Jonathan Spector.

Referee: David Coote (West Yorkshire).

Attendance: 15,061 (including 806 from Birmingham).