We have to be better than this

Last updated : 11 January 2009 By Tony Scholes
Stephen Jordan
Stephen Jordan - man of the match
It really was drab stuff from the Clarets who, according to the official statistics, couldn't even muster one shot on target in the ninety minutes. The Gods were against us again in the shape of red cards but we simply couldn't complain about the performance after coming second best to a decidedly ordinary looking Swansea.

There was a surprise ahead of kick off with the inclusion of Joey Gudjonsson. Joey came off after half an hour in the defeat at Spurs with a hamstring injury and manager Owen Coyle said: "Joey has no chance for Saturday," and even hinted that it could be a four to six week absence for the Icelandic midfielder.

The only change saw captain Steven Caldwell return from suspension and that meant Clarke Carlisle was left out after a recent run that has cost us a number of goals, Michael Duff continuing in the centre of defence.

Apart from one centre half for another it was the same team, but it was a different line up with Wade Elliott back on the right, Chris Eagles shifted to the left and this time Robbie Blake taking up a role in the centre of the pitch. Whether he was playing in midfield or up alongside Martin Paterson I was never able to quite work out.

As we kicked off we'd lost our place in the play off places. Both Sheffield United and Preston (winners in the afternoon) had gone above us. It could have been eighth but Crystal Palace's game at Plymouth was called off. The good news though was, with Cardiff's game also falling victim to the weather, a win would take us up to fourth place.

Now it was cold at White Hart Lane on Tuesday, and I'm not sure it was any warmer up in the Longside upper for this one. We needed the sort of start we'd had at Spurs, you never do feel quite so cold then.

Unfortunately we didn't get it. Swansea dominated the early possession and we were thankful that they weren't able to create much in terms of goal scoring opportunities. Twice Brian Jensen had to be alert to come out and smother balls, but that was about it, although we just couldn't get the ball.

When we did we were careless in possession and that was the pattern for the first quarter of the game. Then, for a few minutes at least, we came to life and created two very good chances for ourselves.

Firstly, Elliott, now on the left, got the ball to Chris McCann down the left. He played it for Paterson and when the striker got in a good cross it was McCann on the end of it. His header went wide but he was clearly appealing for a penalty. At the very least it was a corner, but a goal kick was given.

Within a couple of minutes Blake got the ball out to Eagles on the right and his excellent cross just eluded the onrushing Paterson. We looked as though we might just be getting into our stride but almost immediately the afternoon got a lot more difficult for us.

Swansea got the ball up to Jason Scotland and as he moved into the box he went down under a challenge from Michael Duff. Referee Oliver immediately pointed to the spot and couldn't wait to wave the red card.

It looked a good tackle from my vantage point, and so it was, but Oliver has given the penalty for a shirt tug (the one that was mainly outside the box). You can't argue with the red card but it shows the lack of consistency, and I believe nine out of every ten referees would not have even considered it a foul.

We'd got the wrong referee, and Oliver is clearly an attention seeker, on the wrong day. We were down to ten men and Scotland made no mistake from the penalty spot. For the seventh time this season we were down to ten men and for the third time for more than half of the game.

We reshuffled with Graham Alexander partnering Caldwell in the centre and Elliott dropping to right back. Duff will miss the cup replay with QPR and we hadn't been playing much longer when Elliott earned himself a one match ban (he'll miss the Preston game) after getting the most ridiculous of yellow cards.

We got to half time just the one goal behind, and really we could have no complaints. We'd come up against a side that were passing the ball better than us, and a side that had, like Doncaster a few weeks ago, reduced the pace of the game which always makes it difficult for us.

For the most part of the second half the football was as dull as ditchwater. Swansea were content enough with their lead and were comfortable in possession, we just struggled. It looked to all intents and purposes that it would end 1-0 and we'd all be frozen to death.

It was dire stuff, but in the last ten minutes it started to come to life. Finally I dared to suggest there might be another goal in it, and we were pressing them. Unfortunately it came at the other end. They got the better of Elliott down the flank and the cross found Scotland who rifled in his second and it was game over.

Paterson latched on to a pass from Alex MacDonald, on as a sub, to shoot just over and then in stoppage time had a shot deflected onto the post. That I'm afraid was as close as we came to a goal all day.

We could have no complaints at the result, we were second best on the day, and that's now three league defeats in a row for the first time in just about two years. Given the way we'd played at Spurs, particularly in the first half, this was hard to believe, but it simply wasn't good enough and there is going to have to be a big improvement in the coming weeks if we want to get back into that top six and battle for a play off place.

Stephen Jordan picked up my vote as man of the match, but there were few candidates in all honesty. We have to be better than this.

The teams were;

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander, Michael Duff, Steven Caldwell, Stephen Jordan, Wade Elliott, Joey Gudjonsson (Alex MacDonald 86), Chris McCann, Chris Eagles, Robbie Blake (Steven Thompson 56), Martin Paterson. Subs not used: Diego Penny, Clarke Carlisle, Alan Mahon.
Yellow Cards: Wade Elliott.
Red Cards: Michael Duff.

Swansea: Dorus de Vries, Angel Rangel, Gary Monk, Ashley Williams, Alan Tate, Joe Allen (Nathan Dyer 64), Darren Pratley, Leon Britton, Jordi Gomez (Gorki Pintado 87), Mark Gower, Jason Scotland. Subs not used: Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Albert Serran, Tom Butler.
Yellow Cards: Leon Britton.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: 13,740.