Weary Wearside day for Burnley

I'd love to write about how unlucky we were not to score; how unfortunate we were not to come home with a point, but I can't. From the moment Sunderland went in front there was never going to be any other result on a day when we just weren't at it at all.

We were nowhere near our best in any department of the team. Defensively we gave away two soft goals and never looked secure, in midfield we never had any sort of control whilst the passing was poor, and the front men, despite the energy and desire of Ashley Barnes, was found wanting.

Like the home game against Palace two weeks earlier, this trip to Sunderland provided us with an opportunity to take advantage of a team down near the bottom of the league with us, but it was one we passed up far too easily.

Ashley Barnes was our best player

The early part of the day was fine. It was a trouble free journey up to the North East via Blubberhouses with the A1 option taken ahead of the A19, and we were parked up just yards from the stadium not much under two hours before kick off.

I wasn't expecting the first person I would see to be a familiar figure as far as Burnley FC are concerned, but just walking up, ready to watch his two favourite teams in action, was Hull's head of recruitment Stan Ternent and we reminisced about the only time we've taken anything from the Stadium of Light when Ian Moore gave his team a point in a 1-1 draw in 2003.

Almost immediately I bumped into chairman John B and his brother Paul, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in the North East, who confirmed that he refers to himself as Paul B. I pushed John for any potential transfer information but he just talked about pipelines and being something in them.

Then it was off to the Colliery Tavern just behind the new away end. I was surprised to see how many Burnley fans were there in the tent outside but I'd gone to meet my mate with the Mackem accent. It's always best that we meet up before the game given we don't support the same team.

And then it was off up the steps and into the newest part of the stadium high above the pitch, similar to that at Newcastle although probably, given that I was able, with some difficulty, to get up the steps, not just as high.

The team was, as you would expect, unchanged. Danny Ings had not gone to Liverpool on a loan back; he'd not gone anywhere. The whole notion of him going anywhere was described by the club as farcical.

He did look different. They all did as they came out in the all tin foil kit against a team that wore its full home kit at Turf Moor earlier in the season. Some will like it; I thought it looked hideous and as bad as any kit I've ever seen Burnley play in. Yes, even worse than the all black and, God forbid, the jade and black halves.

 

The opening minutes of the game were shambolic, in the away seats at least. When the game kicked off there was empty seat after empty seat in the rows in front of us. Had we not sold as many tickets as I'd heard? Suddenly, here they came, many thinking they could sit where they want, and a couple of them decided they would stand on the front row, totally disregarding all those seated for row after row behind them.

On the pitch, when I was able to concentrate on the activity way below me, we started reasonably well and probably should have taken the lead through an Ashley Barnes chance. It was Barnes, our best player on the day, who won us a free kick on the right, but when David Jones took it and found Barnes, the striker could do no more than head the opportunity wide.

Our next move forward, whilst not being on target, caused some problems for Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. Kieran Trippier hoisted a ball forward and it caught out the huge goalkeeper. Had he left it alone then it would have gone just wide but he recovered and he did grab hold as he crashed against the post.

Sunderland, in a rare attack, did get the ball in the net but referee Lee Mason ruled it out for a foul on Trippier although it did, when I saw it back, look a very harsh decision.

We were better than our opponents and I do believe had we got a goal then we'd have gone on to win this game. But our goal didn't come and theirs did.

It was awful stuff from us. Ben Mee committed himself and with no one tracking the man wide on the right, Anthony Reveillere, he was able to get his cross in that the completely unmarked Connor Wickham headed home.

The Sunderland fans don't like Wickham, but that will change if he gets a few more games like this one. He fouls defenders constantly; he's a bully, but Burnley allowed it to happen all afternoon and very much to our cost.

A neat move soon after saw George Boyd get a shot towards the Sunderland goal which was saved, but the goal had changed things and once they'd added a second, the writing was on the wall. It was so simple again and once more awful defending from the Clarets.

This time they were able to find Patrick van Aanholt down the left. He was given the freedom of the Stadium of Light all afternoon by us down that side and this time he crossed for Jermain Defoe to open his account for his new club with ease. There were still 56 minutes remaining and this game looked all over.

We came from two behind at Man City almost five weeks ago but there was nothing to suggest there was going to be any such comeback here.

In the early stages of the second half we perhaps had our best spell of the game. There were a couple of half chances but at no time did it look as though we were going to fight our way back into this one.

Sean Dyche decided to change things with just over an hour gone. Off came Boyd and Ings with Ross Wallace and Lukas Jutkiewicz coming on. One fan behind me berated Dyche with a string of expletives for withdrawing Ings, insisting Barnes should have come off. I'm not sure what he'd been watching.

Dyche later explained the decision to substitute Ings and I don't think anyone could dare suggest he'd been at his best, not by any stretch of the imagination.

I don't think anything was going to change things. Sunderland had settled for what they had and we didn't really threaten too much to break them down.

With about ten minutes remaining, I was asked to get as many references to tin and metals into my match report to mock the kit we were wearing. I did once fit a lot of Elton John song titles into a report of a Watford game but that was in a victory.

Then, with just a few minutes remaining, Jutkiewicz almost put a header into his own goal. "That would have put the tin lid on it," I said.

Eventually it did come to an end. There really had been nothing to cheer from this dismal performance. This was very definitely not the Burnley we've come to know and love so much over the last 18 months or so. It really was an off day and as poor as we've been all season.

Hopefully, we'll have got this out of our system by the time we kick off again a week today against West Brom in front of the television cameras.

The teams were;

Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon, Anthony Reveillere, Santiago Vergini, John O'Shea, Patrick van Aanholt, Liam Bridcutt, Sebastian Larsson, Jordi Gomes, Adam Johnson (Ricardo Alvarez 86), Jermain Defoe (Steven Fletcher 75) Connor Wickham (Danny Graham 76). Subs not used: Vito Mannone, Billy Jones, Sebastian Coates, Emanuele Giaccherini.
Yellow Cards: Adam Johnson, Sebastian Larsson, Costel Pantilimon.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Ross Wallace 61), Dean Marney, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Danny Ings (Lukas Jutkiewicz 61), Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 76). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Marvin Sordell.
Yellow Card: Dean Marney.

Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton).

Attendance: 44,022.