Depleted Clarets lose unbeaten run

Last updated : 30 March 2014 By Tony Scholes

Sky television billed the game as the title decider and if that was the case then I assume we must concede that title to the East Midlands club who are, in any case, now clear favourites to return to the Premier League as champions.

There is no doubt at all that they deserved to beat us yesterday. There were times when we weren't happy with the shocking referee Chris Foy but overall we can have no real complaints, other than David Nugent yet again scoring against us, as the better team on the day took the points.

Our concerns now will not be on the three dropped points but on the treatment room, a place that has been virtually empty for most of the season but one that is now filling up as we go into the crucial last games.

I suppose it was significant that both of us were forced into first half changes yesterday when strikers went down injured. They were able to bring on an expensive striker signing as a replacement; we introduced a central defender who hasn't started a game since November.

David Edgar replaced Sam Vokes in the eighth minute

Maybe last week we didn't think it necessary to bring in any loan players right on the deadline but I'm sure manager Sean Dyche will now be wishing he had with Danny Ings not close to a return and Sam Vokes worryingly looking as though he might have sustained a serious injury.

This was the big game of the season. The two clubs made it so because of their form and results since it all kicked off in August. We sat in the top two places with a more than comfortable lead over third place ahead of kick off.

I'm not over keen on the lunchtime kick offs. They throw me completely but at least my timing was just about perfect yesterday when a friend pulled up at the bus stop just a couple of minutes after my arrival to give me a lift to the ground.

It was still over an hour before kick off but there were a healthy number of people already milling around on Harry Potts Way with most of them in the ever increasing queue for the ticket office.

The team news, when it arrived, was no surprise. Leicester had named an unchanged team and we'd made just the one enforced change with Michael Kightly returning for the suspended Dean Marney.

I have to say I wasn't too keen on seeing the Championship trophy on the pitch ahead of kick off. I'm a bit superstitious regarding that sort of idea and I'd have preferred to see a bit of fresh air between Sky pundits Simon Thomas and Peter Beagrie.

The away end looked pretty full and the t-shirt idea for them had worked with their sea of blue theme with most of the 2,800 away fans wearing them.

Leicester got off on the front foot but the game took a dramatic turn with no more than three minutes gone. From my seat in the Longside I suddenly saw Sam Vokes down on the ground and over the touchline on the far side, all but in front of our technical area.

I hadn't seen what had happened at all but we continued to play with ten men as a grounded Vokes received treatment before finally, and thankfully I thought, getting up. After a few steps he took a seat in the dug out and there were frantic calls for one of the warming up subs in the far corner to get himself back.

It was the eighth minute before we made the change. Sean Dyche, Ian Woan and Tony Loughlan had a quick chat and David Edgar was the man to come on, and that forced a change to what looked like a 4-5-1 cum 4-3-3 system.

What a blow. With Danny Ings already sat watching from the stands we now had both of our regular strike force off the pitch.

It all left us struggling to get much of a grip on the game and Leicester dominated although, it has to be said, without really creating anything and Tom Heaton was about as redundant as Kasper Schmeichel, his counterpart in the Leicester goal.

The game was certainly not living up to its billing. It was without goalmouth incident; it was without shots at goal although Leicester were still very much the better team. They too had to make a change when a striker suffered an injury, but in their case Jamie Vardy was replaced by another expensive forward in Chris Wood, and he made an immediate impact.

Within a minute he'd contributed to Leicester going on front. We won a free kick that Ben Mee played into the Leicester box. They cleared it and Wood got onto the ball, played it for Nugent who side stepped Edgar before curling his shot into the corner of the net for what has now become the obligatory goal against us.

From that moment on this was an uphill battle and it was one we didn't win even though it did look as though we had a good penalty shout just before half time.

It was still 1-0 at the break but soon after the start of the second half it was inches from being 2-0 as the again impressive Anthony Knockaert hammered a shot against the bar but then the Clarets had what was probably our only real chance of the afternoon.

It came when central defender Wes Morgan slipped and that allowed Scott Arfield to go clear in the box. He was just a bit too wide and saw his shot blocked by Schmeichel when potentially a shot across the goalkeeper might just have given us that precious goal.

With around quarter of an hour to go we were having our best spell of the match. Arfield forced another save from Schmeichel and we were getting a lot of possession, but ultimately that spell ended with the second goal that ended the contest.

Substitute Ross Wallace was at fault as Leicester cleared their lines down the left touchline and Wood went up against Michael Duff. Some will say foul; others will say Duff wasn't strong enough. There is no doubt the Clarets' defender was pushed and once Wood had got away with it he hammered in an unstoppable shot from distance.

The unbeaten run that had lasted 93 days had come to an end. That's the sort of time between defeats that for Burnley usually includes a close season. When we last lost at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day we lost top spot to Leicester; they've stayed there ever since.

Burnley were second, one point ahead of QPR and a further point ahead of Derby and that was with 24 games remaining. We remain second; QPR and Derby remain third and fourth but our lead over them is now nine and ten points respectively with only seven more games remaining.

Leicester are on their way up to the Premier League, of that there is surely no doubt. I believe it is only a matter of time before we join them despite the fact that our injury list is growing.

We won't play a team as good as Leicester again this season and I reckon we might only need two more wins now after Blackpool and their Blackburn striker did us a massive favour yesterday.

Everything went against us yesterday, particularly the Vokes injury. Should neither of he or Ings play next week at Watford, as I expect, our manager and his staff will have a week to plan how we should play without them, not a couple of minutes as we were given yesterday.

One defeat in 17 games and during that period only Leicester can match us for points. It's certainly no time to be negative; it's a time to keep right behind the lads and cheer them on all the way to the Premier League because that is still more than just in our hands.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Chris Baird, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Junior Stanislas (Ross Wallace 62), Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Keith Treacy 79), Sam Vokes (David Edgar 8), Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, Danny Lafferty, Brian Stock.

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan, Marcin Wasilewski, Jeff Schlupp, Anthony Knockaert, Danny Drinkwater, Matty James, Riyad Mahrez (Dean Hammond 88), David Nugent (Gary Taylor-Fletcher 72), Jamie Vardy (Chris Wood 34). Subs not used: Conrad Logan, Liam Moore, Andy King, Lloyd Dyer.

Referee: Chris Foy (St. Helens).

Attendance: 16,794.