It’s back to the Turf and it’s Wolves
After beating Blackburn Rovers two weeks ago we faced two away games at Fulham and Huddersfield. Both brought great results and now we are back home to face Wolves with us still at the top of the league, a position we reached on beating Bolton a week before the Blackburn game.
With Middlesbrough having beaten Hull tonight with a stoppage time David Nugent goal, it means all of the clubs with a realistic chance of winning automatic promotion have nine games remaining. We currently sit four points clear of Middlesbrough, who have now moved up to second. Brighton are a further two points behind them and Hull are now on 66 points, eight points behind us.
I wanted a 0-0 draw to be honest tonight and it really looked as though it was going to end with that result. Nugent, however, had different ideas and certainly a Middlesbrough goal at that point in the game looked very unlikely.
But, as Sean Dyche says, we can’t affect anything other than ourselves. A win tomorrow will keep us at least six point clear of third and that’s what we must aim for, certainly given we still have to play our two closest challenges.
Andre Gray, who will be lining up against his home town team tomorrow, wasn’t among the scorers last week at Huddersfield but had scored the winning goal in each of the three games prior to that one at Bolton, at home against Blackburn and then at Fulham, taking his total to 20 league goals for us this season.
Having experienced the play-offs last season with Brentford, he said: “It’s gone better for me than last season as I’ve bettered my record so it’s been good in that respect but I don’t want to be in the play-offs. I want to go up automatically so unless we do that it’ll be the same kind of season as I had at Brentford.
“You can’t go into a game thinking you’re not going to score, you have to believe. Sometimes that has happened, sometimes it hasn’t, but as long as we’re winning games I don’t mind. All that matters is winning, especially at this time of the season. As long we get over the line and go up, that’s all that matters.”
Gray praised the supporters for getting behind the team, especially in the away games. He said: “They have come out in numbers and thankfully we’ve given them some victories on the road as well. We still need to keep that going and hopefully they’ll stay with us and help get us over the line.”
Gray kicked off the season at Brentford and scored twice for them before joining the Clarets. At the time we thought we had more strikers than we knew what to do with but within about ten days we’d sold Jelle Vossen, released Marvin Sordell and seen Lukas Jutkiewicz join the long term injured.
He’s played in all but one league game since signing, missing the home game against Reading after being forced off with a hamstring injury during the first half of the previous game at Derby, and the goals have kept coming.
He’s certainly struck up a fine partnership with Sam Vokes. The pair of them have contributed 32 league goals this season for us. That’s helped us become top scorers in the division with four more than Fulham, the next highest. But it is not all about scoring and only Middlesbrough and Hull have conceded less than us.
Gray and Vokes will line up tomorrow in what I expect to be an unchanged team and you wonder whether this might be the game when Lloyd Dyer finally gets a place on the bench. He didn’t play in today’s development squad game which suggests he might be under consideration.
We should line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Dean Marney, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Lloyd Dyer, Rouwen Hennings.
Wolves arrive at the Turf in 12th place in the table with 47 points from their 37 games. On the field it has been a disappointing season in some ways given that they finished last season just outside the play-offs having come up in the previous season.
Seven years ago they were promoted to the Premier League as champions with us going up via the play-offs. Their squad that season, under Mick McCarthy, included players who have since played for us in Jason Shackell and Chris Iwelumo and current Clarets Stephen Ward, David Jones ,Sam Vokes and Michael Kightly.
Three of the four still with us will almost certainly line up against them tomorrow with the fourth, Kightly, likely to be on the bench. As for the Wolves of today, the one link is Kevin McDonald who will be hoping to make his first Turf Moor appearance since that fateful day in April 2010 when we were soundly beaten by Manchester City.
McDonald was an unused substitute last week when they drew 0-0 at home against Birmingham. There was a suggestion he’d been left out because he’d have been facing a two match ban had he received a yellow card to take him to ten for the season.
It was a largely uninspiring game in front of the television cameras but did show they can be a very difficult team to break down.
They are expected to name from the same squad that was on duty last week with one addition. Mike Williamson remains out but they have recalled midfielder Jed Wallace from a loan at Millwall and he’s been added to the squad.
Their team last week was: Carl Ikeme, Matt Doherty, Dominic Iorfa, George Saville, Danny Batth, Kortney Hause, Nathan Byrne, Conor Coady, Bjorn Sigurdarson, Jack Price, Jeremy Helan. Subs: Damian Martinez, Kevin McDonald, Tommy Rowe, Sylvain Deslandeds, Connor Hunte, Michal Zyro, Joe Mason.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Wolves’ last visit to Turf Moor was at the beginning of November 2012 and was the start of a new chapter for Burnley Football Club as new manager Sean Dyche took charge for the first time.
Ahead of his first game, the new man in charge said he was hoping to foster a ‘one club mentality’ and get everyone pulling in the right direction while accepting he had, firstly, to win the fans’ trust and respect. He said he felt that everyone had to rally behind the cause to push the club towards success.
He said: “Wins naturally bring that connection, but I’ve spoken many times about one club mentality, and what I mean by that is between the fans, the players, the staff, the whole club and what it is. That’s really important and I value that. I have to earn that right, to have that connection, and the team has to earn that. Once it’s earned, I feel Burnley’s a place that will really connect with that and they will embrace it. That’s what we are looking to do, but wins always help that to happen, so we will be looking to get wins on the board.”
I’m not sure what we all made of it at the time but I know what we all make of it now. He, his staff and his players have earned that right and there really is a one club mentality at Burnley now.
As for the wins, he did have a really sticky patch in that 2012/13 season but he did get off to a winning start against Wolves.
I wrote in my report that the appointment of a new manager is both exciting as well as concerning. Have we got the right man? Will be bring about a change of form? How will we play? What will his preferred team be?
He had to start without Chris McCann and Marvin Bartley which meant a place in midfield for David Edgar. Joseph Mills, who had endured a nightmare in the previous game at Cardiff, was replace by Ben Mee, who had been out suspended and he opted for Ross Wallace over Junior Stanislas who was left out for the first time all season.
Wolves dominated the possession for long periods. That was their style under manager Stale Solbakken and it was how they played throughout the game without ever really making any progress against a Burnley defence that had already conceded 29 goals in 13 league games.
But it was Burnley won went in front on 18 minutes with Martin Paterson scoring the first goal of the Dyche era. The two central defenders played it to each other across the back with captain Jason Shackell then moving it out left to Mee. He played a delightful ball outside their full back for Paterson who timed his run perfectly got in on goal and beat Carl Ikeme as he came out.
Both sides came close to scoring just before half time. Firstly Dean Marney missed a chance for us before Sylvan Ebanks-Blake came close to getting on the end of a ball into our box.
Charlie Austin, who was on a terrific run in front of goal secured the points just eight minutes into the second half to complete the scoring in or 2-0 win. It was a simple goal as the striker was left unmarked to head home from a Wallace corner.
Only Wolves goalkeeper Ikeme and the games two left backs, Mee and Stephen Ward, are likely to start tomorrow’s game.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, David Edgar, Brian Stock, Ross Wallace (Danny Ings 70), Dean Marney (Junior Stanislas 81), Martin Paterson (Sam Vokes 90), Charlie Austin. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Kevin Long, Danny Lafferty, Cameron Stewart.
Wolves: Carl Ikeme, Kevin Foley, Christophe Berra, Roger Johnson (David Edwards 69), Stephen Ward, Jermaine Pennant (Anthony Forde 68), Bakary Sako, Karl Henry, Tongo Doumbia, Kevin Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Subs not used: Dorus De Vries, Richard Stearman, Danny Batth, David Davis, Bjorn Sigurdarson.Share this page :