Defensive errors costing Clarets

Last updated : 10 September 2005 By Tony Scholes
Micah Hyde - good form in midfield
In a game that could have gone either way it took a header from James O’Connor, one of the smallest players on the pitch, in the last minute of normal time to earn us that point after we had twice been in the lead during the first half.

That first lead came right in the first minute when Ade Akinbiyi laid the ball back for Wade Elliott, back in the side after injury, to hit a low shot into the bottom corner goalkeeper Neil Alexander’s right giving him no chance.

Elliott was in for the suspended Garreth O’Connor and was one of two changes from the side that had lost at Reading, the other change seeing Frank Sinclair back in the centre of defence in place of injury victim Wayne Thomas.

If Elliott took the starring role in the first minute then in the next quarter of an hour Frank featured quite heavily as Cardiff could have gone 4-1 with no problems at all. The first chance was all down to Frank who got himself in a mix up with Danny Coyne but the chance was blazed over by Cameron Jerome.

The two Burnley players argued but we didn’t learn and the next time Jerome created danger he scored the leveller. He beat John McGreal with ease and then hit a low powerful shot across Coyne that left him with as much chance as Alexander had with our goal.

All square with only eight minutes gone and it could have got so much worse for Burnley as Michael Ricketts did what he is good at these days, missing a chance, and then Michael Duff was on hand to clear off the line. It was just about quarter past three and we were fortunate to still be in the game.

What we had done was seen off the early Cardiff onslaught and for the rest of the first half we were the better side and should without doubt gone in at half time with a comfortable lead. We did go in front again and once more it was Elliott. He latched on to a half clearance and volleyed it into the corner with some power for what was the best goal of the game.

We were playing some good stuff now and we were moving the ball well in the midfield with Micah Hyde prominent in just about everything we did. And we should have doubled the lead through Ade but he somehow shot wide after bringing a cross under control.

Just as everyone was getting ready for half time we conceded a bad second goal to allow the Welshmen to go in level. This Burnley side right now are giving goals away far too easily and again, just as at Reading, we conceded a goal from a corner when Glenn Loovens was granted a free header.

Graham Branch looked the guilty party and certainly the fingers of blame were pointing in his direction, but what should have been a half time lead was lost.

Half time was good, none of the cheerleading for one, this time we had a display from the Marines and cleverly they were split into four groups, one in front of each stand. Well done to those Marines, the ovation at the end was fully deserved. Now all we needed was for the Clarets to step it up and go on and win it.

It started brightly enough and Elliott, gaining in confidence by the minute, got in a couple of very teasing crosses but they came to nothing. One thing hadn’t changed though, we still hadn’t learned how to deal with set pieces and Cardiff could so easily have gone in front when they had free headers from firstly another corner and then from a free kick.

Thankfully they couldn’t find the target but with twenty minutes to go Jerome definitely did when he hit the deck and won a penalty against Sinclair. Central defender Darren Purse, who had spent most of the afternoon fouling Gifton Noel-Williams and getting away with it, sent Coyne the wrong way and we were staring at a second home defeat of the season.

Cotterill rung the changes with both John Spicer and Karl Bermingham coming on but it appeared to make no difference as we proceeded to hit long balls up to the front men which was getting us nowhere.

Then, when all looked lost, we got ourselves that late leveller. It came initially from a very strange free kick decision in our favour that should have gone the other way. Eventually the ball found its way across to Jon Harley whose cross was knocked out but only as far as Spicer.

John chipped the ball back up and the little man got up, Ian Britton style, to head home for the equaliser and what proved to be the last goal of the game. Four more minutes were added on and we put Cardiff under some pressure although they just about managed to hang on.

We can hardly say we deserved any more today, given the number of chances Cardiff had. It takes some believing that we are currently conceding goals at a faster rate than any other side in the division, at this stage last season we were hardly giving a goal away.

It is the worst start for 37 years defensively, on that occasion we had conceded one more from the first seven games. There’s no doubt that it has to be stopped and that might mean us best going back to a 4-5-1 formation.

But that’s for Steve to decide and he will know right now that we cannot go on conceding goals like this, if we do then we are going to find ourselves in a real battle this season, we know all about that from two years ago.

There were some good individual performances today. Jon Harley at the back looked assured both defensively and coming forward with the ball and he was close to my man of the match, as was Wade Elliott who had his best game yet as well as scoring the two goals.

But for me it was Micah who was involved in most of the good things we did and dominated the midfield during that first half when we were so much on top.

It’s Deepdale next, and we really do have to stop conceding those goals.

The teams were,

Burnley: Danny Coyne, Michael Duff, Frank Sinclair (Keith Lowe 89), John McGreal, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott (Karl Bermingham 80), Micah Hyde, James O’Connor, Graham Branch (John Spicer 72), Gifton Noel-Williams, Ade Akinbiyi. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Chris McCann.

Cardiff: Neil Alexander, Rhys Weston, Darren Purse, Glenn Loovens, Chris Barker, Kevin Cooper (Paul Parry 83), Jason Koumas, Jeff Whitley, Joe Ledley, Cameron Jerome, Michael Ricketts (Alan Lee 86). Subs not used: Martyn Margetson, Neil Cox, Neal Ardley.

Referee: Peter Walton (Northampton).

Attendance: 10,431.