Home rule continues against Bournemouth
Bournemouth arrived yesterday having never won at Turf Moor and left with that record intact as the Clarets collected all three points in a 3-2 win as current boss Sean Dyche got the better of his predecessor Eddie Howe.
I knew Bournemouth didn’t have a good record at Burnley but it was only when writing a preview that I realised they’d never secured a solitary win in the thirteen previous games including the FA Cup tie in 1961 which was their first ever game against them and the first occasion I saw Burnley play in the FA Cup.
Bournemouth in the Premier League is still something difficult to get your head round, but they’ve done more than OK since getting there. They ended their first season five points away from the drop zone and have started this season well, including the big comeback last weekend against Liverpool. Everything suggested it would be a tough game for us.
It was much more like Burnley than it had been for the previous home game against Manchester City. Then the sun shone; yesterday it was grey and misty, the rain threatened, the sort of day Jimmy Greaves used to joke about in his Tottenham days.
Burnley were going into their last pre-Christmas home game and we were in need of some points given the last three games had all ended in defeat. Not in any way did I think this was a must win game as some had suggested on the message board but realised just how important it was not to be stuck on 14 points for much longer.
Sean Dyche made four changes to the team beaten at Stoke. Tom Heaton returned, as expected, after two games out with injury. Paul Robinson had deputised well but I don’t think anyone ever believed Tom wouldn’t go straight back into the side when fit.
The manager reversed the decisions he made last week and, after one game, all of Jon Flanagan, Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray were back on the bench with returns for Matt Lowton, Steven Defour and Sam Vokes.
Burnley started on the front foot with Jeff Hendrick going down. It was certainly a foul but outside the box although nothing was given. Bournemouth responded with a couple of efforts of their own, Dan Gosling perhaps could have done better with an effort that went wide of the post.
The game was interrupted with a minute’s applause on eight minutes given it was the first anniversary of the death of Bournemouth’s Harry Arter’s Renee who was still born. I may well be criticised for this, I’m sure I will be, but I really thought it inappropriate. I know how difficult it must have been for Arter and his partner last year but I really don’t think, a year on, it was the right thing to do at all.
But back to the football and Turf Moor was soon lit up with yet another goal of the season contender. We’ve had a few already this season and Hendrick has certainly now added his name to those contenders.
Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké was first to a Heaton clearance, but his header only went to Lowton. He played the ball forward and then it was sheer brilliance from Hendrick. He controlled the ball in the air with his right foot and allowed it to bounce once. He then played it off his right thigh before volleying spectacularly into the top corner with goalkeeper Artur Boruc absolutely helpless.
Hendrick himself said he was more pleased with the way he took and controlled the ball than he was with the shot. To an extent I agree with him but this finish was absolutely stunning.
It rocked Bournemouth but before they could do anything about it the lead was doubled. Sam Vokes won us a corner and from that we got a quick second. This time Defour’s cross was met by Ben Mee. His header was parried on the line by Boruc but only to Stephen Ward who swept home his first ever Turf Moor goal from close range.
It was all Burnley and Boruc redeemed himself making a superb save down by his right hand post to deny Michael Keane. I’ve seen Bournemouth concede four on the Turf, I’ve seen them concede five and I’ve seen them concede seven. Without it ever going to reach the highest of those figures it did look as though they could be in for a big score against them.
They put a stop to that and as the first half wore on they started to come into the game more and more and in the last ten to fifteen minutes of the half we didn’t seem to be able to get the ball from them as they probed this way and that.
I just felt it important that we got to half time at 2-0, dared to say that, and we almost immediately conceded. They got the ball to the right of goal and when it came in an unmarked Benik Afobe swept home.
For the record, the goal came after 46 minutes and 13 seconds. That’s 13 seconds beyond the one minute held up on the board for stoppage time. I couldn’t care less about that. It seems our club are still bleating about the one against Arsenal over about six seconds and yesterday they reported that the goal came “following a previously announced one added minute”. They want to have a word with the announcer then because it is a MINIMUM of one minute.
Dyche made his way to referee Martin Atkinson at the interval pointing at his watch. I can understand that, it’s in the heat of the moment, but we’ll probably get another two pages soon in a future match programme complaining about it.
The goal certainly changed things at half time. At 2-0 I’d have been very confident of winning; at 2-1 I had some serious doubts given the way Bournemouth had started dominating.
Early in the second half, with Bournemouth looking the stronger, Dyche made the change that I think wrestled the game back our way. Off went both Defour and Vokes with Barnes and Gray coming on as we went 4-4-2. Barnes was close to a stunner with his first touch of the ball and at no other point in the game did I think we might drop points, that was until the last three minutes or so.
Gray too had a shot, his volley saved by Boruc, but he played a major part in the goal that gave us some breathing space. Ward lost possession but Simon Francis could do no more than play the ball into the path of Gray. He controlled the ball before back heeling it to George Boyd who struck the ball so well into the far corner.
Bournemouth looked a beaten side for a time. Gray went on a sensational run down the right before forcing Boruc into a save and Scott Arfield should certainly have got a fourth but dragged his shot wide after a good ball in from Lowton.
We got to the ninety minutes at 3-1 but there was to be a nervous period of stoppage time when Bournemouth almost immediately pulled a goal back through Charlie Daniels following a short corner. He took it well and suddenly I had some concerns.
James Tarkowski came on for Boyd but we saw it out with ease and secured a fifth home win of the season, one more than in the entire 2014/15 season.
It had been a good game and, despite the periods of possession from Bournemouth, it was a game we thoroughly deserved to win. Dyche had words with referee Martin Atkinson at half time and at the end it was Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall who were pressuring him, and after the game Howe made it clear he was unhappy with the goal that was disallowed for handball and thought they should have had a penalty when former Claret Marc Pugh, who had come on as a substitute, went down in the box.
I thought they had no more of a case than Dyche and, for what it’s worth, I thought Atkinson had an outstanding game and showed us all just how a good referee can keep a game flowing and how to make best use of advantage.
A win and you would like to be confident now of going on an unbeaten run. By the next time we play at home, against Middlesbrough on Boxing Day, we have to play two away games in London. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, that away record has to improve. There’s no time like the present.
But for now, let’s enjoy having seen a really good game of football, a really good performance and three points for the Clarets.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jeff Hendrick, Dean Marney, Steven Defour (Ashley Barnes 55), George Boyd (James Tarkowski 90+2), Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Andre Gray 55). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Michael Kightly, Patrick Bamford.
Yellow Cards: Scott Arfield, George Boyd.
Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Charlie Daniels, Adam Smith, Dan Gosling (Josh King 72), Harry Arter, Ryan Fraser (Marc Pugh 81), Benik Afobe, Callum Wilson (Jack Wilshire 59). Subs not used: Adam Federici, Tyrone Mings, Brad Smith, Jordan Ibe.
Yellow Cards: Harry Arter, Dan Gosling.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Leeds).
Attendance: 19,680 (including 1,429 from Bournemouth).
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