Clarets sink Saints
Report of match Southampton 0 Burnley 1 played 19th April 2008
Reporter Tony Scholes
A Steven Caldwell goal right on half time was enough to give the Clarets all three points at Southampton and left the Saints, playing Premiership football three years ago, with a tough fight to avoid dropping into League One.
This success was a deserved one and has given us a ninth away win this season and taken our points total to 61 which is more than in any season since 2001/02 when we missed out on the play offs by one goal.
There were two changes to the Burnley side and we knew ahead of the game that they were going to happen. Clarke Carlisle was back from suspension at the expense of David Unsworth. Owen Coyle had said during the week that we'd really missed Clarke making it clear he would be back in the side. Also out was Kyle Lafferty following his appendix operation and Ade Akinbiyi was back in for him alongside Andrew Cole with Robbie Blake again operating on the left.
Jon Harley was fit again but his baby has been ill so was missing, as was Mark Randall through illness, so it was almost down to the bare bones with the sixteen virtually picking themselves.
I'd warned about referee Paul Taylor and his ability to favour the home side. I suggested we'd probably get at least two yellow cards and it didn't take him long. In only the second minute of the game he was waving a card at Wade Elliott and he was to go on and book three Burnley players whilst continually and frustratingly ignoring anything committed by the home side.
We didn't let that early booking get in our way and we were the better side in the opening exchanges. Stephen Jordan and Robbie Blake linked well to set up a James O'Connor but his shot went over and the Clarets continued to take the game to Southampton although I'm not so sure what Ade was doing when he crossed the ball from the right. Much more on it and it could have found the Solent.
Although Southampton had hardly gone over the half way line the big screen was urging Saints fans to vote for their man of the match. VOTE NOW - it flashed, and that with only six minutes of the game gone.
It had been a bright start for us against a Southampton side that didn't look to have much about them. With Stern John and Bradley Wright-Phillips up front I worried given the way they'd played against us at the Turf and we started with the same back four as we had that day.
They did get into the game during the first half but it never appeared anything to worry about. The only real concern was the possibility of a shot from distance and given that they had Inigo Idiakez and Youssef Safri in their side we needed to be on our guard.
In truth it all got scrappy but then in the last few minutes of the half it came to life at both ends of the pitch. Twice Brian Jensen saved well. The first counted for nothing with the offside flag up but the second did as he parried away an effort form Andrew Surman who was strangely being employed at left back.
We got the ball from that second save and it led to us taking the lead. We won a free kick, Robbie took it and Clarke Carlisle rose to head goalwards. Only a terrific save from Richard Wright kept it out as he tipped it over. Robbie went to take the corner and from this he found Caldwell unmarked to head home his second goal for the Clarets right on half time.
I thought we just about deserved that half time lead but it was almost wiped out immediately after the break. Jensen looked to lose the ball and it came back off the post. Shortly afterwards they missed their best chance and from them on we were well and truly in control.
We restricted them to shots from distance for much of the time and when they did get the ball into our box, or anywhere near it, they found our two central defenders in superb form. They won headers, they won tackles, they intercepted and they played the ball out positively.
At the other end we came close ourselves a couple of times and one in particular as Robbie set up Andrew Cole who looked odds on to score before the defender got back just in time.
Both teams made changes but it had little effect on the game as the Clarets looked to run the clock down. One of the changes saw former Burnley loan player Nathan Dyer come on to replace Mario Licka. Again the big screen sprung to life with an appeal to spectators to keep any valuables secure. Just a coincidence or good timing?
You just couldn't see an equaliser coming and the home crowd were getting more and more frustrated. Referee Taylor added three more minutes and in the very last of those minutes Safri did what we knew he could do, he hit a superb shot from distance but Jensen made the save of the match to keep it out. As the ball flew over the bar for a corner the Southampton heads dropped and the big Burnley following got to their feet, they knew the points were coming back to Lancashire.
It might not have been a Watford, or a Charlton, or a Wolves, but this was as good a performance away as we've seen for some time and this ninth win was more than deserved.
Choosing a man of the match was difficult, for me there were three outstanding candidates. There were our two central defenders and then there was Ade, all three of them deserve it to be honest. In the end I've gone for Ade. He turned in one of those performances where he doesn't give the defenders a minute's peace. He got down the right, he got down the left and he got down the middle and he was taking them everywhere and I'm sure at least two of the back four were probably in Portsmouth by the time he'd finished.
There were a couple of Ade moments but his control, his touch were excellent and he only needed a goal to make the performance complete.
So, 61 points, and just as I'd begun to think that we'd gone on our holidays and were turning in end of season performances we did everything we could have asked of them. Now let's go and do it again another couple of times and then we really can go and enjoy the summer.
The teams were;
Southampton: Richard Wright, Jermaine Wright, Chris Perry, Chris Lucketti, Andrew Surman, Mario Licker (Nathan Dyer 64), Youssef Safri, Inigo Idiakez (Jhon Viafara 79), Jason Euell, Stern John, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Marek Saganowski 79). Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Vincent Pericard.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander, Clarke Carlisle, Steven Caldwell, Stephen Jordan, Wade Elliott, James O'Connor (Joey Gudjonsson 64), Chris McCann, Robbie Blake (John Spicer 90), Ade Akinbiyi, Andrew Cole (Alan Mahon 79). Subs not used: Gabor Kiraly, Michael Duff.
Referee: Paul Taylor (Herts).