Seventh Heaven

27 October 2013 04:01
Birmingham City, Leeds United, Charlton Athletic, Doncaster Rovers, Reading, Ipswich Town and now Queens Park Rangers; seven consecutive league wins for the Clarets with a cup victory against Nottingham Forest thrown in.

Back in mid-September we were all devastated when a Scott Arfield back pass played a major part in gifting Blackburn an undeserved equaliser and a point at Turf Moor. You might not need reminding of that but for most it has now been lost in time as the Clarets have gone on this amazing run of wins since that have now left us three points clear at the top of the Championship.

Yesterday, in what was billed as the toughest game of the lot, two Danny Ings goals, with one from the penalty spot, saw off Harry Redknapp's QPR in front of Turf Moor's biggest crowd, other than against rival North West teams, since the 3-0 win against Doncaster on Boxing Day 2011.

Most of them left the ground with huge smiles on their faces as the Clarets turned in another outstanding performance to see off the side who have been billed as promotion favourites ever since their relegation was confirmed before the end of last season.

Excellent performance from Keith Treacy after coming in for the injured Scott Arfield

It seems it is pressure game after pressure game right now. Ahead of the Reading game there were constant suggestions that we'd beaten nothing up to then, all the wins had come against the lesser teams. We put that right with a win that was far more convincing than the 2-1 scoreline suggested.

Then, two weeks later, came QPR. "Are you confident?" I was asked in the pub whilst having my pre-match pint. "If we lose the game we'll have 29 points from 13 games was my answer." What I was saying that this had been an incredible start to the season no matter what the result was going to be. Having said that, I did suggest that 32 points from 13 games would be a remarkable return.

The big surprise came with the team news. An unchanged team was expected but there was no Scott Arfield. It was clearly an injury, later confirmed as a groin strain, given that he wasn't even on the bench. The replacement was Keith Treacy, the new slimmed down Keith Treacy, ahead of Junior Stanislas in what was, otherwise, the same team that had won most of the league games referred to above.

Doing match previews on a Friday, I used to get all hung up when forecasting the opposing team when they had a lot of household names in their line up. So try a team that fields Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Niko Kranjcar, Richard Dunne, Joey Barton and Charlie Austin.

They were all there yesterday as the teams came out; a reminder that some clubs have much greater resources than ours, but we have things that others don't have.

We might not have had a car on the touchline to enable our manager to look through to see the game, but we have a Ginger Mourinho who with his framework, physicality, mentality and group has given us a team to be proud of.

The players talk about the togetherness, the team spirit within the camp and the likes. It's what supporters want to hear. It gives us confidence too and so I was quite relaxed, and that's unusual for me, ahead of the game.

I should be relaxed. The likes of me were accused of talking rubbish by Sean Dyche last week for worrying that we never win at Ipswich and yesterday Danny Ings, admittedly after the game, said: "We are going out each week with no fear."

I could base my report on Ings and his strike partner Sam Vokes, and this is another story that cannot be told without their contributions, but this is a team game and the other nine players on the pitch deserve every bit as much praise from this latest win.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton had precious little to do. That was down to the back four again turning in outstanding performances while in front of them the midfield four of Treacy, Dean Marney, David Jones and Michael Kightly simply never let QPR get anything like a real foothold in the game.

This really was always going to be our most difficult game so far this season and it took us a while to get to grips with it. That allowed QPR to probably have the better of the opening exchanges and Karl Henry forced Heaton into an early save with a powerful low shot that was thankfully straight at our goalkeeper.

In truth, other than a long distance effort from Joey Barton, one of two players targeted by the home fans, the other being former Blackburn wide man Junior Hoilett, that went wide, there was very little overall to concern us in the first half.

It was at the other end where the escapes came. Only a superb late challenge denied Treacy from setting up a chance after he'd gone on a long lung bursting run and then twice they almost presented us with goalscoring opportunities.

Goalkeeper Rob Green, whose given us some soft goals over the years, took a short goal kick to Henry. I'm not sure what on earth the midfielder was doing but he played the ball directly to Ings who went down under a challenge from Green. "Penalty!" I screamed as I jumped out of my seat. I was wrong, Green had played the ball.

Green also played the ball, just about, from a Kieran Trippier free kick and was grateful to Clint Hill who managed to head the ball over the bar before Sam Vokes could get onto it.

That free kick, a foul on Ings, earned Barton a yellow card as referee Andy Haines (not Simon Hooper as widely reported) bizarrely started waving cards around like confetti at a wedding. Barton was the first of five carded in a ten minute period along with team mates Hoilett and Dunne then Jones who will now miss the West Ham cup tie, and Treacy.

It was still 0-0 at half time but over the 45 minutes we'd been the better team. I know how good QPR are supposed to be from highlights I've seen and reports I've read, but we stopped them from playing.

The second half, for long periods, was similar, other than the referee not bothering with anything now having realised his quota of reports needing to be filed. But I sensed more and more that we were stepping things up and certainly we looked the more likely.

Vokes almost set himself and Marney up only for the ball to bounce away but then, twenty minutes into the half, it all lifted with yet another goal of real quality.

Some will say three Burnley players were involved. I don't agree with that. For me there were four. QPR found Henry with the ball but when he turned to move forward he found his way blocked by Treacy who had done well to get in position.

That forced Henry to turn into Marney who did really well to nick the ball from him and play it forward.

I said the story couldn't be told without reference to Ings and Vokes. Ings it was who collected the ball and played it forward for Vokes before moving towards the box. The reverse pass from Vokes was exquisite although not quite on the plate for Ings that the goalscorer suggested it was.

It still needed some good play from Ings and that's what we got. He took one touch to get in front of the defender and then left Green helpless before running to the corner to celebrate.

Harry wound his window down, shouted some instructions, and started making changes. They soon got their best chance of the game when a ball was hoisted over from the left to the far post. Heaton just about got a touch to the head back but there was some relief when Dunne found an area over the bar to place his effort.

I awaited the big response from them. I awaited the intense pressure they were going to put us under. Quite simply it did not come.

A brilliant ball in from the right from Treacy was almost inch perfect but Ings was just unable to reach it and then Vokes and Ings linked up again. Vokes played in Ings who, in looking to return the ball to his strike partner, was fouled by Barton.

Referee Haines didn't hesitate in pointing to the spot and this time it was Ings who stepped up to send Green the wrong way and send Burnley five points clear of QPR and three points clear of Leicester who have moved into second place.

Ings has cleared up the penalty taking situation. If he wins it, he'll take it; if anyone else wins it, Vokes will take it.

That was it. A two goal lead that we never ever looked like losing. We strolled through comfortably to the final whistle which, not for the first time recently, was greeted with sheer delight by the home crowd.

I don't know the possession stats but over the ninety minutes but they probably suggest they had more of the ball. It's what you do with it that counts and they did little with it because we didn't let them. When called upon the back four were virtually impregnable and the sheer work put in by the midfield four forced QPR into playing the ball far deeper than they ever would have wished.

Kevin Bond said after the game that we deserved credit for stopping them from playing, that they weren't able to play through the midfield. He was absolutely right, and he'd also have been equally right had he admitted that they, ultimately, couldn't stop us from playing.

Seventh heaven - it's good isn't it? Going to watch Burnley right now is a real pleasure. The wins are exceptional and the football is a delight to watch.

And the manager of the month curse has had a major effect hasn't it. Ginger Mourinho won it for September and our October league record ends with four wins in four games, seven goals scored and only one (and that a fortuitous own goal) conceded.

There's a real buzz about the place just now. I can't remember when it was last like that; it's almost like the early days of Jimmy Mullen some 22 years ago.

The one big disappointment for me yesterday was that one of my friends, Andy, wasn't able to be there. He wasn't too well a couple of weeks ago when he came to the Reading game but he's deteriorated and is currently in hospital.

We're all thinking about you Andy, and this one's for you.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Keith Treacy (Brian Stock 90+4), Dean Marney (David Edgar 83), David Jones, Michael Kightly. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, Danny Lafferty, Junior Stanislas, Ryan Noble.Yellow Cards: David Jones, Keith Treacy.

QPR: Rob Green, Danny Simpson, Clint Hill, Richard Dunne, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Gary O'Neil (Javier Chevanton 73), Niko Kranjcar (Matt Phillips 73), Joey Barton, Karl Henry (Jermaine Jenas 68), Junior Hoilett, Charlie Austin. Subs not used: Brian Murphy, Armand Traore, Oguchi Onjewu, Alejandro Faurlin.Yellow Cards: Joey Barton, Junior Hoilett, Richard Dunne, Danny Simpson.

Referee: Andy Haines (Sunderland).

Attendance: 16,074.

Source: Clarets Mad