Home defeat to Leicester brings drab end to the year
Leicester came to Turf Moor yesterday and took all three points, and deservedly so, with a 1-0 win in what really was a disappointing game of football to end the year.
It never got going. The first half in particular hardly produced anything of note, although the goal came in that period, and all in all it wasn't an afternoon's entertainment that would have anyone rushing back for more.
There was good news ahead of kick off. There had been fears that, for the second time this season, Charlie Austin wouldn't be fit to play against Leicester, but when the team news was confirmed he was in the starting line up with the only change seeing Keith Treacy coming in for Martin Paterson.
Paterson probably needed that break. He's been getting some stick recently from supporters. He's certainly struggled at times and in recent weeks he's missed a host of chances you'd expect him to put away.Michael Duff has reached 250 league appearances for Burnley
Treacy has been pushing his way back into the reckoning. He'd come on as a substitute in the previous three games and this was his first league start for Burnley since last February, after which he was all but banished from the first team squad and went off to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
Other than that, it was same again against a Leicester side which showed two changes to the one that had drawn at Hull on Boxing Day. It was a Leicester team that included former Claret David Nugent who received a warm reception from the Burnley supporters ahead of kick off.
Nothing much happened for the first few minutes but Austin's afternoon was to take him only until the eighth minute before he went down and had to be replaced with Paterson getting an early recall.
"It was a strange one," said Dyche. "Charlie cleared himself because he thought he was fine but unfortunately, as sometimes happens, once the reality of the game starts he has felt a tightness so we've had to get him off straight away."
Pato was involved in our first opportunity. He got clear down the right to cross for Danny Ings who headed just wide. But it was a rare piece of attacking football from us in a game that was already becoming stale.
Leicester had already looked the better of the two sides. They were organised and were passing the ball better than us. They finally forced Lee Grant into his first save of the afternoon when Ben Marshall tested him but almost immediately we had our best chance when Paterson got clear on the right hand side of the box but saw Kasper Schmeichel save his shot.
It was a rare move forward with Leicester now dominating possession. They were making it very difficult for us to get into the game at all but the one saving grace was they weren't offering up too much in the way of chances.
But, with David Nugent in the side that is always a massive threat to Burnley and so it proved just past the half hour with the only goal of the game. It was a poor, poor goal to give away from our point of view with the finger pointing very much at our two central defenders.
It was no more than a thrown in on the left hand side but when it came in Michael Duff might well have given a penalty away. He was holding Wes Morgan with his arm wrapped right round him.
Referee Naylor allowed it to go on and Morgan got the better of Duff to get to the line and play the ball into the six yard box where Nugent got in front of the ball watching Jason Shackell to score from close range.
That's his seventh goal against us now for three different clubs. One of his two for Portsmouth came in a draw but the others have all been in wins for his team. Nugent's celebration was respectfully muted, as was the case last season. Strange then that one Sunday report headlined with Nugent having to shrug off the Clarets fans' boos.
We had one half chance to draw level before half time but couldn't force a save out of Schmeichel and the dreadfully disappointing half ended with us a goal behind.
The opening minutes of the second half suggested better. A couple of very good deliveries into the box from Treacy gave hopes of an improvement, but it wasn't to be and the game followed a similar pattern.
Just before the hour, Sam Vokes was introduced at the expense of Ross Wallace. He'd offered very little after suffering an early injury. Vokes arrived to ironic cheers from the Burnley crowd. HIs recent late appearances as a substitute have brought demands for him to be given a starting berth and this was the first audible reaction to Dyche since his arrival as manager.
Getting over half an hour it was difficult for him. We never got the ball and I don't think we ever got a ball into the box for him from dangerous areas. With Wallace off, and Keith Treacy also later being substituted, it left us with no width and a very disjointed looking side on the pitch.
In the very next attack after Vokes' introduction, Leicester were reliant on Schmeichel who again saved from Paterson but there was to be no Burnley comeback here. If anything, Leicester were the more likely to score and no more so than when they brought on Marko Futacs for Nugent with five minutes remaining.
He caused us some real problems and came as close as possible to a goal when he hit a shot against the bar just before the board came to reveal four minutes of stoppage time.
There was a bit of a surge of interest from the stands and you always hope there might be one last chance. There was, and it fell to Paterson who could do no more than place it into the hands of the relieved goalkeeper.
The last chance was gone and in truth, had it gone in, we'd have got more than we deserved. Yes, Leicester were very organised and retained possession of the ball well, but we didn't test them anything like near enough and they were able to go home having collected the three points far too easily.
A week ago I proclaimed the draw at Birmingham as probably our best performance under Dyche. I don't think there is any doubt that this was the worst. He himself said we looked flat and we were certainly never able to raise the level of our performance in any way.
It wasn't just the loss of Austin. We played without him at Leicester and, in the first half, played really well. It just wasn't good enough and we need better in Yorkshire this week before returning home to take on the high flying Crystal Palace.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Ross Wallace (Sam Vokes 57), Danny Ings, Keith Treacy (Brian Stock 83), Charlie Austin (Martin Paterson 8). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, David Edgar, Marvin Bartley.Yellow Cards: Michael Duff, Kieran Trippier, Sam Vokes.
Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan, Liam Moore, Paul Konchesky, Matty James, Danny Drinkwater, Ben Marshall, Anthony Knockaert (Martyn Waghorn 61), Lloyd Dyer (Paul Gallagher 83), David Nugent (Marko Futacs 86). Subs not used: Conrad Logan, Jeffrey Schlupp, Andy King, Michael Keane.Yellow Cards: Lloyd Dyer, Danny Drinkwater.
Referee: Michael Naylor (South Yorkshire).
This game was Michael Duff's 250th league appearance for Burnley. He becomes only the 36th player to reach that milestone in the history of the club.
He joins the following list of players.
522; Jerry Dawson439: John Angus439: Jimmy McIlroy438: Alan Stevenson434: Tommy Cummings426: Jimmy Adamson410: Martin Dobson400: Fred Barron379: Brian Miller371: George Waterfield346: Willie Watson336: Leighton James327: Steve Davis323: Joe Taylor318: Adam Blacklaw316: George Beel308: Colin Waldron301: Harold Mather300: Brian Pilkington297: Jim Thomson293: Paul Fletcher287: Marlon Beresford285: Derek Scott277: Bob Kelly271: Alex Elder271: Arthur Woodruff270: Brian Jensen269: Billy Bowes264: Graham Branch264: Jimmy Strong262: Les Shannon258: Gordon Harris257: Andy Farrell252: Wade Elliott252: Paul Weller250: Michael Duff
Source: Clarets Mad
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