The old cliché of a game of two halves was very much evident again. We were the better of the two teams up to the break but once West Ham hit us with two early headed goals after the break it was always going to be a difficult game to get back into.
We did come close; we pulled a goal back, might have got a second, but West Ham got themselves a third and that was game over.
I'd left home with a bit of confidence that this might be the day when we broke the deadlock and got that first win, but then I realised it was the now 60 year old Sam Allardyce bringing his team and that often means poor fortune for us, particularly with some shocking penalty decisions that have gone his way at Turf Moor in games against Blackburn and his current club.
Our good news was that of a return for both David Jones and Danny Ings whilst Kieran Trippier, stretchered off at Leicester, was fit to continue at right back, something that I'm sure will give the disrespectful Nigel Pearson food for thought.
|First Burnley goal for George Boyd|
Stephen Ward, who had played so well in that draw at the King Power, and Ashley Barnes were the players to drop down to a bench that again included Nathaniel Chalobah who was also fit to return after the freak wind pipe injury he sustained in the Under-21 cup game against Hull.
I often suggest in my reports that we started a particular game well or not so well but yesterday we took the game to West Ham right from the start and dominated the first period of the game.
Danny Ings had already had one shot blocked when we came within inches of taking the lead with what would have been George Boyd's first goal in Burnley colours. Trippier and Scott Arfield were involved down the right hand side with Trippier playing the ball in to Boyd who was just outside the box.
He might have benefited from a deflection but he superbly chested it past a defender before crashing the ball, from 16 yards, against the bar. As has been the case in other games this season, we were inches away from taking the lead.
I know this game is not all about luck but I wish some would just go our way. You make your own luck, we are all aware of that, but sometimes a bit of good fortune wouldn't go amiss. Whilst we were missing out here, down at Southampton we had Sunderland full back Santiago Vergini scoring a farcical own goal under no pressure at all. Why couldn't he have done that at Burnley?
It was all Burnley and the ground lifted when Lukas Jutkiewicz found the net. Ings had done brilliantly to work himself into a shooting position only for Adrian to save his effort. He failed to hold it and Juke fired in the rebound. Unfortunately, the assistant referee's flag lifted to signal that there was an offside.
Now Matthew Wilkes with the yellow flag had a torrid afternoon littered with errors. At one point in the first half a long Trippier throw down the line bounced some distance outside of play with Wilkes failing to give anything. This time though he was absolutely correct in raising his flag.
It wasn't all Burnley by any means. They hit the post with a speculative shot from the right and Enner Valencia almost got onto a left wing cross, but overall it was Burnley very much in the ascendancy throughout the half.
Jutkiewicz just failed to get on the end of a Boyd cross and Arfield might have done better with a couple of opportunities. So well were we playing that my mate turned to me and said: "This is just like it was last season but without the goals."
But, as the half time whistle blew, we went in for the break at 0-0. It left home fans scratching their heads as to how Burnley were not in front, but also left them concerned that we might just have missed a real opportunity by not scoring at least one goal.
Those concerns were there for all to see soon into the second half as we fell behind not by one goal but by two. Both came from superb crosses and both were good headed goals, the second in particular was a stunning header. But, and it is a big but, the defending wasn't good on either goal as our two central defenders failed to deal with them.
The first saw Diafra Sakho get the better of Jason Shackell at the back post to head home an Aaron Cresswell cross and for the second Enner Valencia was allowed to move into the box unmarked to brilliantly head home from Carl Jenkinson.
Nine minutes into the second half and we were staring at a fourth league defeat of the season; the ground went flat, and only a goal line clearance prevented a third. But then things changed.
We came back into it. Ings made a run which won us a left wing corner. From the corner, goalkeeper Adrian got caught up with Ings, the ball ran loose and Boyd hit home from close range. Adrian was claiming a foul but for me it was poor goalkeeping and he was looking for an excuse.
Two minutes later we were so, so close to drawing level and it would have been a trademark 2013/14 goal as Ings got a head to a Trippier cross only to see it curl just wide. Had that gone in then I'm sure the atmosphere would have changed both on and off the field and would have surely fired us back on top in the game.
Sadly it did go wide and West Ham went on to score a third, a real scrappy affair with substitute Carlton Cole heading home after we failed to clear a corner.
To our credit we kept going. Substitute Barnes crashed a volley against the underside of the bar but it wasn't to be and a 3-1 defeat it was.
All the promise of the first half had gone with those two goals early in the second half during our worst spell of the game. West Ham caught us out at the beginning of the half and that was enough for them to go on and win the game.
Needless to say the doom mongers were out in force. The thread blaming the directors for a lack of ambition, started after the West Brom defeat, was resurrected by the original poster. Strange that he wasn't concerned over any lack of ambition when we scored a late goal at Leicester.
Then came the comment last night that had me switching my computer off immediately. "I think today all but confirmed our relegation," wrote theclaret5, almost revelling at every mistake we'd made in the game.
I was disappointed, of course I was. I'm always disappointed after a defeat. I don't think some people realise just how tough it is in this league for us this season. We are playing better teams and teams where there is more resource than there is at Burnley.
On the player ratings thread, daveisaclaret wrote: "Enjoyed yesterday. We played well and lost to a better team, that's just how life if gonna be at this level."
That sums it up for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the way we played in the first half, and I enjoyed the way we kept going in the second half after twice falling two goals behind.
I'll get accused by some of being too positive. I know we haven't won and I know we've only got four points and sit next to bottom in the league.
I know it is the easiest thing in the world to say: "If just one of those first half chances had gone in". I know they didn't but I remain convinced that this squad of players is good enough to get the wins we need and get us out of the bottom three.
We were never going to be a team that would take the Premier League by storm; we were always going to be relegation candidates. But this is a battle I remain convinced can be won. I have faith in our manager and players.
We played far better yesterday than some are giving us credit for. It seems some can't wait for us to lose so they can have a go.
I'm already looking forward to Everton next Sunday. Will it bring us our first win? I don't know but I reckon our players will go out and give it a damn good go and I can't ask any more than that. And if we play as well as we did in this game and maybe just get that goal, who knows?
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Scott Arfield, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Nathaniel Chalobah 83), Danny Ings (Marvin Sordell 83), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Ashley Barnes 65). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, Ross Wallace.
West Ham: Adrian, Carl Jenkinson, James Collins, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Alex Song (Kevin Nolan 83), Mark Noble, Morgan Amalfitano, Stewart Downing, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia (Carlton Cole 58). Subs not used: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Burke, Joey O'Brien, Matthew Jarvis, Ricardo Vaz Te.
Yellow Card: Winston Reid.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicester).
Attendance: 18,936 (including 2,945 West Ham fans).