Frustrating start for impressive Clarets

By James Lonsdale
Last updated : 10 August 2011
The enigma which is Andre Amougou

Prior to kick off a celebratory feel was in the air as Burnley legend Jimmy Mcllroy was awarded his M.B.E in front of his ever adoring Burnley crowd, it was a fitting ovation for the man labeled “ Burnley’s greatest ever player “.

After the crowd had calmed down it was down to business, Eddie Howe handed debuts to both on loan defenders Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier in a young and vibrant lookingBurnleyside. With Eddie Howe selecting the same side that had performed with credit againstSunderlandlast Saturday.

Burnley started the game immediately on the front foot, pressing high up the pitch not allowing theWatforddefence or midfield a second’s breathe. The passing was quick and crisp asBurnleyused all the width of the turf moor pitch feeding the ball out wide to wingers Elliott and Wallace. Width had obviously been an area where Howe feltWatfordwere vulnerable, both full backs Fox and the mightily impressive Trippier were flying forward at every opportunity.

The Clarets could easily have been two goals to the good in the opening twenty minutes, with Paterson and Rodriguez wasting several half chances and they continued to come and go as Dean Marney screwed a 30 yard shot wide with the Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach nowhere to be seen.

TheBurnleydefence was solid with Ben Mee looking composed against the awkward Iwelumo.Watford were relying on scraps fed to them mainly by the enigma which is Andre Amougou, his ability to switch from the sublime to the ridiculous was illustrated with vigor throughout the first half.

The home team were dominating the possession stats as a combination of slick passing and a attack minded approach was causingWatfordproblems. The pressure being applied by theBurnleymidfield and striker force was helped in no small part to the energy and work ethic of Martin Paterson who was so willing to run the channels, turning simple long balls into attacking situations.

Burnley continued to press for the opening goal of season, but as so often the case in football Watford landed the sucker punch, a quick break down the Clarets left the impressive Sordell with space to deliver a pin point cross to the back post where Forsyth made no mistake to head home from 8 yards.

The half time boos were I would hope a combination of both frustration and shock; it had been a 45 minutes whereBurnleyhad produced some great football and created several good chances, but had nothing to show for it.

Charlie Austin replaced the injured Martin Paterson at half time, to make just his second league appearance at the turf. It was Austin who had the first chance of the second half when a great Trippier cross found him in space six yards from goal, but despite having time to set himself, the ball slide of his knee and out of play.

The crowd were on their feet in the 60th minute when new boy Keith Treacy replaced Wade Elliott, it brought about a change of flanks for Wallace as he switched to the right hand side of midfield.

The chances were now coming thick and fast Rodriquez twice dragged wide when well placed, Watford were continuing to offer very little their only chance early in the second half coming to Iwelumo whose effort was well saved by Grant. Despite all the Clarets pressure it was Watford who scored the second goal of the game, a Sordell flick on left the back line exposed as Ben Mee attempted a tackle he accidentally deflected the ball into the path of the on rushing Yeates who coolly slotted the ball past Grant from the six yards.

I was reassured by a fellow claret not to worry, as last seasonBurnleyhad collected more points than any team from losing positions in the championship. Nevertheless we were still two down with just twenty minutes to play, in a game we had dominated, a goal was most certainly required and quickly.

The goal Burnley had sought came on the 75th minute mark, when after attack after attack a Keith Treacy shot deflected of Charlie Austin and flew passed the helpless Loach. As so often is the case in football once we had got that one you felt a second was inevitable, and so it came in the 84th minute, some superb inter play between Wallace and Trippier, left Wallace with space to whip a great cross towards the back post where Keith Treacy sublimely arched his header passed the despairing dive of Scott Loach.

I doubt even the staunchest of Watford fans would have denied Burnley deserved the third goal the crowd craved, but it was not to be despite the best efforts of the team. A 2-2 draw was the least Burnley’s performance merited, the passing and attack minded nature of every individual was great to see, a desire to go forward and to score goals. The passing was crisp and direct; opposition players were given no time on the ball, it was a genuinely impressive opening day performance. With a few quality signings in certain key areas and a little bit more luck in front of goal, there should be no reason why we are not challenging for the top six come May. One thing is for certain after seeing the attacking nature of the Burnley team; we can expect to see plenty of excitement.

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