Hertfordshire Italians take Turf Moor point

16 December 2012 01:33
Burnley were held to a 1-1 draw for the third time in four games as Watford went home with a point in a game that the Clarets really should have gone and won after coming from behind.

It was more points dropped, and they were dropped in a game we really should have gone on and won in a game where were, for me, very much the better team.

We found ourselves behind after a shaky start, recovered well to equalise with a possibly fortuitous penalty and should then have gone on and won the game against a Watford side who didn't, one short second half period apart, offer too much of a threat.

Sean Dyche made three changes to the team that had lost at Nottingham Forest a week earlier. Two of them were forced on him with both central defender Michael Duff and midfielder Chris McCann both serving one match suspensions.

Charlie Austin - equalised from the penalty spot

I'd expected David Edgar to come in for Duff and one of Danny Ings or Junior Stanislas to replace McCann. I was partly correct. It was Ings who came in rather than Stanislas. Edgar also started but in a midfield role at the expense of Brian Stock with Kevin Long coming in for his first ever Burnley start alongside Jason Shackell in defence.

It's been a long wait for Long who was heralded as a star in the making three years ago by then manager Owen Coyle just ahead of his move from Ireland. He's served an apprenticeship in five loans at Accrington (three times), Rochdale and Portsmouth and yesterday was actually his 57th Football League start.

Stock was on the bench. The last time he didn't start was the 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace and alongside him amongst the substitutes was the almost forgotten man Keith Treacy. The fact that he was there at all is down to some strong and good work from both himself and manager Sean Dyche.

No one will suggest Treacy hasn't been without problems and the speculation has suggested they have all been self inflicted. But credit to him. I've been told he's worked his socks off in recent weeks to get to where he is right now and that he's had nothing but encouragement from Dyche who has worked with him all the way.

Dyche knows how good he can be when fit and committed. He saw that at his own expense in August last year when Treacy came on as a substitute and was the central character in our comeback from two goals behind to draw against Watford on the opening day of last season.

We lined up in what I would consider was a 4-1-4-1 formation with Edgar in that midfield holding role and Ings in a central midfield position with a brief to get up and support striker Charlie Austin.

With all the changes, perhaps it was no surprise we didn't start too well although we did have the first opportunity of the game when Austin knocked the ball down for Ings and the visitors were able to scramble the ball away.

 Watford, who, prior to last week's home defeat to Hull, arrived as one of the form teams in the division started to get the ball forward with their passing style, albeit at something of a slow pace and our rookie defence, which again included Danny Lafferty at left back for the injured Ben Mee, were struggling a bit to deal with it.

We kept them out fairly comfortably though at the expense of a few corners but a fourth corner, and one that should not have been given, proved to be our downfall as they went in front.

As that corner came over, referee Phil Gibbs halted proceedings to speak to two players in our penalty box. It looked like Long and Troy Deeney. But simply, the ball was in play, the corner had been taken and there is no way on earth he could restart the game with a re-take.

This appalling referee did just that. It came over from the right and I thought Long might have conceded a penalty as he grabbed Deeney as the ball ran loose. It came out to their left, they played it back in, Edgar headed it clear but only to Nathaniel Chalobah on the edge of the box and the youngster, on loan from Chelsea, hit his shot through a crowded box into the bottom corner.

For the third time on the run we 'd found ourselves 1-0 down at home, but this time much earlier in the game than in the previous two against Charlton and local rivals Blackburn. Watford had looked as though they might snatch the lead and they'd done just that.

Thankfully, it sparked us into some action and we soon got ourselves back into the game. We started to have much more of the play. We stepped up the tempo from the slow pace that Watford had dictated in those early minutes, and we began to get on top.

Watford might well have found themselves down to ten men too. After one foul by goalscorer Chalobah, Gibbs got the yellow card out but as Burnley took a quick free kick he seemed to forget all about it when the game next stopped.

Chalobah did get a yellow card soon after for another foul. How lucky was he? And with no further punishment for his dissent and kicking the ball away he had to count himself fortunate to still be out there.

We hadn't created much in terms of goalscoring opportunities until we won a free kick out on the right hand side. Ross Wallace's delivery was perfect. Ings looked favourite for it but Edgar got in front of him and that enabled Watford to eventually scramble it away at the expense of a corner.

It should have been the equaliser but we didn't have to wait long. Wallace made his way across to take the corner on the other side and played it short to Marney who went down under a challenge from Almen Abdi.

Gibbs didn't hesitate as he pointed to the spot amidst protest from a number of yellow shirts. From my vantage point it looked soft but I've spoken to someone who sits on that side of the ground who felt it was a clear push from Abdi.

Austin unerringly hit the spot kick into the bottom right hand corner as former Arsenal goalkeeper Manual Almunia, who had done all he could to delay the taking of the penalty and received a yellow card for his troubles, went the wrong way.

We were level and a minute later we were almost in front but Almunia recovered to keep us out. He was becoming the centre of attention. He saved from Kieran Trippier but couldn't hold the shot and was then thankful to Tommie Hoban who rescued things for him when he parried a ball in from Martin Paterson.

The 18-year-old defender, who was part of Dyche's squad at Watford last season, did really well to get to the ball with Austin looking set to get his second goal.

So, 1-1 at half time. Overall we'd been the better side but with the usual concerns that things tend not to be as good in the second half of games and for a while so it proved. We were very much in the ascendancy but not creating too much although we were having few problems, if any defensively.

If we were going to get one then it was likely to be Austin again. He forced Almunia into two saves. One saw the goalkeeper come out quickly as Austin tried to nick the ball over him, but the other was an excellent save as the Spaniard went down to his left to save on the line.

Then surely we should have had another penalty. Whatever the merits of the first one there is absolutely no doubt that Marco Cassetti handled inside the penalty area.

We were seeing precious little of Watford but they then almost regained the lead with what would have been a stunner. I've seen it reported that Joel Ekstrand was some 35-yard out when he let fly. I wouldn't dispute that.

I feared a goal. Wherever it was heading it was leaving Lee Grant with no chance at all. Thankfully it cannoned against the bar and back into play. Grant was relieved, we were all relieved, and then thankful to Grant who saved from Deeney to ensure he didn't break a Watford goalscoring record of netting in seven consecutive games.

Much has been said on this game. Some fans thought we played well and were unlucky not to win. Others thought it was a disappointing performance. Most were somewhere in between.

I was probably one of the more positive from this game but I do agree that again I was surprised we left it as late as we did to introduce our substitutes. The first to appear was Junior Stanislas with 72 minutes gone.

His delivery was poor but from the minute he came on I thought we started to open up Watford more. HIs movement was good if not the accuracy of his delivery.

Six minutes from time saw the introduction of Treacy. Incredibly, the last time he saw any league action at Turf Moor was back in February when Millwall beat us. He made one good run, he played the pass of the afternoon to set up Marney and was then involved in the last minute incident that almost saw us win it.

We were deep into stoppage time. Fitz Hall defended brilliantly to keep out Austin at the expense of a corner. Treacy took it and found the third substitute Sam Vokes who wasn't introduced until we were in stoppage time. The striker saw his goal bound header saved by Almunia.

Gianfranco Zola, just as Henning Berg had done two weeks earlier, picked out his goalkeeper as his best player and with some justification.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a Brian Jensen v Reading type performance but a good one and it wasn't a game where we'd have run away with it had he not played so well.

It is a performance that has brought mixed reviews, as have Dyche's post match comments. But I thought it was a reasonably enjoyable game and one that we really should have gone on and won.

The one concern really is the fact that we didn't win and the result of that is we've now won only once in the last seven games. That sort of sequence needs to be arrested quickly.

"We're in a relegation battle, we're only five or six points from safety," I was told this morning. That's not the case. We're eleven points clear of the bottom three and, for balance, we are seven points from the play offs. Even so, we do need to start winning games again, and soon.

The teams were;

Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Kevin Long, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, David Edgar, Ross Wallace (Sam Vokes 90+2), Dean Marney, Danny Ings (Keith Treacy 84), Martin Paterson (Junior Stanislas 72), Charlie Austin. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Joseph Mills, Marvin Bartley, Brian Stock.Yellow Card: Keith Treacy.

Watford: Manual Almunia, Joel Ekstrand Fitz Hall, Tommie Hoban, Marco Cassetti, Jonathan Hogg, Almen Abdi, Nathaniel Chalobah (Mark Yeates 45), Daniel Pudil (Ikechi Anya 90+1), Troy Deeney, Alexander Geijo (Matej Vydra 72). Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Piccoli Neuton, Steve Beleck, Cristian Battocchio.Yellow Cards: Nathaniel Chalobah, Manual Almunia.

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands).

Attendance: 14,896.

Source: Clarets Mad