Swimming with the dolphins at Hillsborough

Last updated : 11 August 2013 By Tony Scholes

Two first half headed goals in the space of five minutes, both from right wing crosses, were enough to ensure a fifth win at Hillsborough in the last eight visit, with the only defeat coming on that awful opening day in 2008 with the inspirational performances of Diego Penny and Remco van der Schaaf.

The Gods are certainly doing all they can to make travel difficult this season. We got caught up in congestion in York last Tuesday and this time we suffered a hold up of around 40 minutes on the M62 due to a caravan positioned on its side taking up two of the three lanes.

A Sam Vokes goal, his first of the season, gave us a 2-0 lead

It was the only hold up and there was still plenty of time to visit the chippy across from the ground and just up at the top of Leppings Lane. Not as though I wanted any, but it's become something of a tradition and every time I've been in there we've come home with all three points.

Once inside the ground I was met by the Burnley Dolphins. No, we haven't set up an ice hockey team in town; we've just now got a fetish for inflatable dolphins. The jobsworth stewards at York didn't like them so at Hillsborough there had been a population explosion of them as they flew around among the Burnley fans ahead of kick off.

There were no surprises when the team was announced but definitely a surprise amongst the substitutes. It was the same eleven who had started the games against Bolton and York but the change on the bench saw a return for Ben Mee in place of Luke O'Neill, this despite confirmation from the club that he was again ruled out.

It all started quite well for us. Wednesday had a couple of attacks that came to nothing but it was Burnley who created the early chances. Twice Vokes was played in within the space of just a few minutes.

He got onto the end of a ball from Ross Wallace but rushed his shot and blazed over. Then, when a deflected Dean Marney shot landed at his feet, he opted to go near post and gave Chris Kirkland just the chance he needed to keep it out.

If I was a bit harsh on our centre forward at that point he certainly went on to make me eat my words with an excellent performance.

Tom Heaton did have one routine save to make to his right but it was very much Burnley in the ascendancy and our biggest problem seemed to be the match officials. They stared erratically and I can assure you they did not improve.

It just needed a goal. It came, with another one right behind and for much of the remainder of the game we really didn't look like surrendering that two goal advantage.

Kieran Trippier and Wallace were the architects of both goals. I've defended Wallace's performances recently, even to the point of being told to face the pitch, but his right wing partnership with Trippier continues to be a vital part of our team.

Trippier it was who played the ball down the line for Wallace to run onto after beating the offside trap. He progressed before cutting in and then crossing the perfect ball for Ings to head home.

Almost immediately we had to make a change. Junior Stanislas, who had started brightly on the left hand side, was replaced by Scott Arfield. I'd seen nothing to give any hints as to why he was going off but a re-run of the goal shows him in picture looking in some discomfort.

It didn't bother us. Just five minutes after the opener came number two. This time Wallace had possession by the corner flag. He got the ball back to Trippier who pushed it past one man before delivering the perfect ball for Vokes at the far post.

This time Vokes made absolutely no mistake, heading the ball back across Kirkland and into the corner for his first goal of the season.

There was delirium in the away end and the dolphins were enjoying it too. I don't think anyone could deny we deserved the two goal advantage and that's what we took into the half time interval.

Things changed in the second half simply because we had to contend with an aerial bombardment from the home side. It was a barrage of long balls into our box that we found ourselves having to deal with.

And deal with them we did. The two central defenders were magnificent but it wasn't just about them. We defended superbly as a team and players were getting bodies in the way of balls as they came in, reducing Wednesday to very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities.

It certainly wasn't one way traffic and on a couple of occasions we might have extended the lead, but back came Wednesday with more balls to deal with. And when they did get an effort on target it took a breathtaking double save from Heaton to keep them out.

I was feeling quite comfortable. I didn't think we were going to lose this lead but then the game changed in two incidents within a minute or so of each other. Down at the far end I remain convinced that we should have had a penalty for handball.

I know I was over 100 yards away from the incident but it looked clear to me and, judging by the reaction in the away end, I wasn't the only one. I suppose it wasn't a surprise given the performances from these officials but you wonder how on earth referee Webb and the assistant down that end missed it.

It might have proved crucial too. From that escape Wednesday attacked, got down the right and the cross was met by David Prutton who headed home at the near post.

With more and more high balls coming in, Sean Dyche sent on David Edgar for Wallace and amazingly he might have clinched it for us but headed wide from a corner when he looked a certain scorer.

The clock moved on. It reached 90 minutes, and then came the board showing six extra minutes to be played. Where on earth that came from only these officials will know, but in truth we didn't have a single scare and when the final whistle came we were winners again at Hillsborough.

There was a lot of positivity at the end of the game as Burnley fans left the ground. We'd played some really attractive football in the first half and then, when forced, had defended so well during the second half.

I don't think there was a disappointing performance out there from a Burnley player and each and every one of them gave it everything to ensure the points were won.

It's four points from two games. It means little to be honest and certainly no pattern has been set for the season as yet by any club. But it is a good start and we'll take the four points going into the home game against Yeovil next Saturday.

Then it's a trip to Brighton. I wonder if the dolphins will be making the trip to take on the Seagulls.

The teams were;

Sheffield Wednesday: Chris Kirkland, Liam Palmer, Kamil Zayatte, Anthony Gardner, Rafael Floro, (Chris Maguire ht), Jacques Maghoma (Caolan Lavery 82), David Prutton, Jose Semedo, Jeremy Helan, Atdhe Nuhiu, Michail Antonio. Subs not used: Adam Davies, Miguel Llera, Martin Taylor, Corry, McCabe.
Yellow Cards: Jeremy Helan, Jacques Maghoma, Anthony Gardner.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Kevin Long, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Ross Wallace (David Edgar 74), Dean Marney, David Jones, Junior Stanislas (Scott Arfield 34), Danny Ings, Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Ben Mee, Brian Stock, Keith Treacy, Ryan Noble.
Yellow Cards: Jason Shackell, David Jones, David Edgar.

Referee: David Webb (Sunderland).

Attendance: 22,282.